Monday, June 20, 2011

Gotcha, sucker!

Glossy Ibis (left) and White-faced Ibis at San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge 19 June 2011

     Man, I haven't seen a Glossy Ibis in over 10 years.  As a matter of fact, the only time I've ever seen one was in Hungary with István Katona.  There was a hybrid bird at the other pond that had blue legs with obvious red knees, but the face of a White-faced Ibis, but the other 300 birds were all "pure" (as far as we know) White-faced Ibis.
     Glossy Ibis--which breeds from Louisiana to the Eastern Seaboard--is so hard to tell apart from our normal California i.e. western species of White-faced Ibis, that there is an entire chapter on separating them in "Advanced Birding".  Fortunately, this bird was in high breeding plumage, so all I had to do was stare at every single one of the 300 other ibis out there, one-by-one, needle-in-a-haystack, and say, "No, your face is white.  Nope, you have a white face. Nope, there's white behind your eyes." for an hour.
   Separating these same 2 birds (literally, the 2 birds in the photo) in December would be a nightmare ending with birders cussing each other out, accusing each other of withcraft, idolatry, and Zoroastranism.
  Guy has the annoying habit of finding a winter plumage Glossy Ibis at the Salton Sea in the middle of a flock of 2,000 White-faced Ibis.  Each year when he writes an email like that, I just shake my head and say, "No way, Jose. Not driving four hours to Sinclair Road to stare at a flock that big all day long."

     Well, there's Howard, getting into his pickup truck.  If you don't know Howard's last name, then you aren't a serious California birder.

Other birders whose last names are not necessary:

Chet (thanks for finding the Glossy Ibis, Chet!)
Stan name a few.

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