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.

So, based on the coloring match and the region alignment, I am pretty sure this is indeed a Juniper Titmouse.  It is a great feeling to be able to check off another bird in the old list even if it was by total accident.  Even though these pictures are way too soft, they  are keepers until Linda and I can make it back out there.  When we do, you can bet I’ll be giving a LOT more attention to these cute little birds now that I know what to look for.

As far as some interesting facts go, one thing to note is their limited region.  Wikipedia expands their region a bit over the All About Birds site, but clearly in the Great Basin region – they do not overlap with the Tufted Titmouse range making their identification even easier.  From All About Birds we learn that the females will hiss like snakes if they are disturbed.  This little tidbit will come in REAL handy the next time I’m in the Canyons with Linda and she suspects a snake is in the vicinity – “No, honey, don’t be so paranoid – clearly that is a just an incubating female Juniper Titmouse”.  Sometimes ignorance is indeed bliss especially if the truth could result in hysteria to the point where my shirt gets ripped off (trust me, that has happened in the past – just ask her).   Wikipedia pretty much wrapped it up and put a bow on it for me in their short description of this bird.  Apparently they like acorns (first pic check), hang out in undergrowth (oh yeah).  Although they have a relatively tight home region, they are listed as having a Least Concern conservation status – yea!  I also learned a new word – their offspring are born “altricial”.  Always thirsty to learn I eagerly hit the Wikipedia link to consume a bit more grey matter with something new and surely worthwhile while out and about with my family, friends and occasional strangers when the opportunity comes about to hold an impromptu education session out in the field.  I can envision it now “Did you know these Junipers are born altricial?  You didn’t know that?  Yep, every damn one of them!”  …. followed of course by expressions of gratitude and clowns losing their heads (you realize that last one is literal right?).  Of course, this fantasy immediately came to an abrupt landing when the definition of that word came back as “needing nourishment”.  Well, no shit Sherlock sigh…

With that less than impressive Juniper fact I bring you ..

the “end” of this post.  (nice, this bird is only like 4 to 5 inches long and I couldn’t even manage to get both the beak and tail in focus .. crap crap crap).

So long for now friends – hoping this helps stem those nasty emails … not sure related or not but I was slammed with 100 spam comment posts this week.  Kudos to my spam filter which caught every single one of them.

5 thoughts on “A Juniper Surprise”

  1. If you’re alarmed by the quality of these shots, you are not going to be impressed one bit by my bird pics from vacation, that’s all I’m going to say.

    You can still say they are born altricial (a new word to me, too, and apparently to the WordPress spellchecker). If they ask what that means, just say “Oh, you know, altricial, right?” and walk away.

    BTW, speaking of being annoying, I picked up a few annoying stock phrases while I was in Australia that I’m dying to use. I once asked a hotel clerk a question and he responded, “No drama.” I don’t recall what he said next because I was busy filing that annoying response for later use. Another clerk responded to a question once with “Too easy.” Another slight put-down that will be put to use in the future.

    An interesting reaction your wife has to snakes.



  2. Another word for your Crossworld puzzle answers – I get credit for the first time you get to use it!

    No drama – wow, that is extremely condescending – basically telling you that you’re overacting about nothing. Too easy is bold – reminds me picking up materials for project Auuurnoold last week . Had a palette full of rubber tile boxes I bought for my weight room. When I got up there the lady asked me if I needed help — when I responded no, she touches the boxes and goes “Oh, they must be light” WTF? after all it is going in my WORKOUT ROOM (and they were not light). I was peeved!


  3. The “No drama” comment would get particular animus if said at work to a woman, I bet.

    Excellent put-down by the lady at the store! She’s a pro, you can tell.



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