A Juniper Surprise

So, based on the hate mail that has been showing up in my mailbox lately, the teeming millions want their bird posts and they want it now. Fred B. from Michigan wrote “If I don’t get a bird post in the next 48 hours I’m going to stab this little voodoo doll I just made of you.” Harry R. from Nevada just called me a bunch of names and likened me to a terrorist – honestly I’m just assuming it was due to lack of birds but he may just be delusional and simply suffering from a bad case of the bumbles. Oh, and Rick P. from Texas simply asked me if I’d consider featuring a jailbird in the upcoming months. Although I don’t like to give into peer pressure, it is obvious that the people are getting restless – next thing you’ll know Homeland Security will put out a report stating there is a serious trend of the commoners not trusting their government. I’d hate to contribute to such unhealthy thoughts so to remedy that I’ll shall pull out a BIRD POST (trumpets, cheers, clowns losing their heads). Today I bring you a new bird on the list taken at our favorite home away from home – Vegas! To be specific it was actually taken at Red Rocks Canyon while we were out there in Nov 2012 – I know I know, beat me, whip me, make be write bad checks.
Oh, and did I mention it was kind of a surprise find?

Before we go any further, I need to state for the record, that these shots are for the most part pretty crappy.  They were taken in very bad lighting and it took everything I had in the digital darkroom just to make them somewhat presentable.  At first viewing I was disappointed and had my finger moving to the delete key when something made me take a second look.  When I was taking this shot I took the profile to be just a common Tufted Titmouse.  We have them all over the place where I live and that species alone probably consumes about a quarter of my bird food.  I’ve learned to at least snap a few shots in the field even if first impressions are less than exciting – even in bad lighting since these first two had to be pulled out of underbrush darkness.  Guessing that green thing is some form of trash and the twig in the first one is UBER annoying.  Regardless, something made me hesitate to toss them.

There is one common element in our local Titmouses .. maybe that is Titmice now that I think about it… and that is a sometimes faint but always present orange coloring on the sides.  The lack of that on this particular  bird was likely the reason for the hesitation. The crest was a perfect match but in all the shots, the orange element was missing.  It was off to the reference bookshelf to see if this was indeed a new entry on the bird list.  To my pleasant surprise there was an all grey Titmouse – in fact, there were two, the Juniper Titmouse and  the other being the Oak Titmouse.  The Juniper range fit the location I was at perfectly and the Oak was isolated along the Western side of California.  If only Sparrows could be this easy!

Hit the jump to see a few more crappy shots of this new bird to the list and read a few interesting related facts.

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