Two new Yucatan birds

Two new birds for the Yucatan Peninsula. The images (video grabs) depict the Western Kingbird, Dec. 25th 2008 and the Song Sparrow, Dec. 31st 2008,that I discovered while birding there.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird, Dec. 25 th 2008, Oxkutzcab, Yucatan, aprox, 100 kms. south east of Merida, Yucatan. While birding the dump located aprox. 6km south of the town, Oxkutzcab, I located this Western Kingbird. The bird was in view for about 15 minutes from as close as 40 feet. It foraged actively hawking for insects from exposed perches. In this photo one can see the contrastingly black tail with the bold, crisp and completely white outer tail feather.

Western Kingbird

This photo also shows the above mentioned marks.

Western Kingbird

This photo of the Western Kingbird shows the smaller bill and the longer primary extension,compared to either a Tropical or Couch’s Kingbird.

Western Kingbird in flight

This image shows the Western Kingbirds unforked black tail that contrasts sharply with the grey upper rump and lower back.

Western kingbird in flight

This image shows the white outer tail feather on a black unforked tail.

Western Kingbird in flight

Although blurry, this image shows the white outer tail feather.


This image shows both white outer tail feathers.

Description of Western Kingbird, from notes after the sighting.

After having walked for about 6 km’s from the town of Oxkutzcab, (pronounced OSH COOTS COB) I had finally arrived at the town dump. A few days before, my wife and I had driven past the dump where I noticed a rather large flock of “Rough-winged Swallows” perched on the power lines that ran next to the road. I wanted to go back, video tape them and determine as to weather they were Northern or Ridgeway’s Rough-winged Swallows. Once there, I was glad to see them still hanging out and in fact their black tipped undertail coverts clued me in that they were in fact Ridgeway’s. After getting some footage I then ventured into the dump where I was greeted by far too many feral dogs. There must have literally been over 100 dogs there and their sad state of health was breathtaking. Some pathetic ones fled quickly, some starving ones did nothing and some of the puppies came over for a visit. I began to film the swallows, trying to get shots in flight when a Kingbird got my attention. Upon looking at it I immediately recognized it as a Western Kingbird, a bird that I am intimately familiar with. Not knowing the status of it in the Yucatan but knowing that it was a new bird for me on the peninsula, I began to film it. After I got home (to Patricias folks house in Oxkutzcab), I looked at Barbara MacKinnon’s checklist to the birds of the Yucatan and was shocked to see that it had never been recorded. I then took notes while the bird was fresh in my mind.

The description; Western Kingbird, Dec 25th 2008, Oxkutzcab Dump, on road to Lol Tun Caverns approximately 6 km’s south of town. The bird was an obvious Kingbird being a large Flycatcher showing grayish upper parts and yellow under parts. Immediately upon looking at the bird I noted that it had bold, crisp and bright white outer webs to the outer tail feathers set on a black unforked tail that contrasted strongly with the grayish back. At times when the perched bird had its tail closed, it was difficult to see the white of the outer tail feathers. I noticed that the bill seemed far too small for that of a Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird. This feature gave it a rather “cute look”, something that I never feel when I see a Tropical/Couch’s Kingbirds “swollen” bill . The chin and throat were white and didn’t contrast greatly with the pale yellow underparts. The color of the belly seemed to be a lighter, cleaner yellow than the rich deeper yellow of the Tropical. The back was grayish with a very faint and subtle cast of olive green seen only in the best viewing conditions. The head was gray and contrasted ever so slightly with the “gray blushed” green of the back.  The wings were grayish and showed a rather long primary extension. The Kingbird was in view for about 15 minutes where it foraged for flying insects from exposed perches. It moved off to the far side of the dump where it was seen near two Tropical Kingbirds.

Note; Patricia and I returned later that afternoon at about 4:30 PM but had no luck re-finding it.

Song Sparrow, 12/31/09, On the road to the “Ol’ Garbage Dump” located 7 km’s east and south of Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico.

Song Sparrow, Progresso, Yucatan 1/1/09

This Song Sparrow was located ESE of the city of Progreso, Yucatan Mexico, aprox. 7 km's south on the road that runs from the main east-west hwy, through and past a large garbage dump. It was seen twice that day about 3 km's south of the dump. Although these are poor "video grabs" they do show some important marks. This image shows a dark, long tailed Sparrow with a white throat and malar mark that is seperated by a thin crisp dark whisker. The face is grey with a dark trans ocular line. The back is heavely streaked and contrasts with the unmarked greyish-brown rump. The tail is long.

Song Sparrow, Progresso, Yucatan

This shot shows the long tail, the dark trans ocular line, the dark crown and bill as well as the pale legs.

Song Sparrow, Progreso, Yucatan

This image shows the long tail and pale legs.

Song Sparrow, Progerso, Yucatan

This image shows the face pattern once again as well as the grey brown rump and the pale legs.

Song Sparrow, Progreso, Yucatan

This image shows the long tail and the rump-back contrast.

Song Sparrow, Progreso, Yucatan

This image shows the white throat and dark whisker mark.

Description of the Song Sparrow, from notes taken immediately taken after the sighting of the bird.

Found in thorn forest habitat on west side of dirt road, aprox. 3 km’s south of garbage dump, located east of the city of Progreso, Yucatan. While “pishing” into the thorn forest this bird immediately popped up in to full view and faced me. I identified it as a Song Sparrow the moment I looked at it. Rather stunned, I grabbed my video camera and that sudden motion made the bird turn away from me. I began to film the bird from the back. It then turned to its right and gave me a brief profile. It was in view for about 30 seconds whereby it flew off. Description; I recognised the species right off as a Song Sparrow. Overall the bird was an intricately patterned bird in the head and breast. It was a long tailed Melospiza that was brown above and light below. The back was medium brown with 4 or 5 darker brown bold streaks. The underparts were white with heavy blackish-brown streaks across the breast and then down the flanks. The streaks grouped up together to form a bold dark cluster located in the center of the breast. The face was a combination of grey, black and dark brown with a bold white malar patch that broadened near the rear. This mark stood out boldly from afar. The cheek was greyish and was outlined by the darker brown lines through the eye and the border between the malar and the cheek. The throat was white and was set off by a bold black whisker line. The crown was greyish brown. The bill was dark, conical and typical of a Sparrow. The wings were brownish and didn’t contrast with the back. However the inner tertials had black bold centers. The rump was unmarked and contrasted with the stripes on the back. The long tail was brownish. I located the bird again about two hours later on my return walk back toward the garbage dump. At that time the bird was perched against the bright sky and so I did not film it. It was in view for about 20 seconds and again flew off, this time not to be seen again.