Finally back in front of the keyboard. Once again, the hectic levels have been peaking around here with deliverables due at the day job, Raven’s running agility this weekend and we are one tiny little week away from the start of race season. Due to the latter, I decided to come back home early from the agility show (show is being held about 1.5 or so away) and get some miles in on the trails before the rain comes back and mucks them up tomorrow. Was hoping to get one final easy long outing in before tapering – well, that was the plan until my GPS decided to try and kill me. Took a new trail in the park which turned out to be a complete nightmare. At some point it decided that figuring out the constant elevation rise and drops was just way toooo much work and simply assumed the trail was flat. Next thing I know it is telling my I’m running 12+ minute miles which is absurd. Thinking I was slacking, started driving harder only to be thoroughly exhausted at what the GPS thought was mile 8.5 AND STILL AT a 12 minute mile pace. The good news in all of this the upcoming half marathon race course can’t be anywhere as difficult as my training runs so I should be good to go (fingers crossed). Meanwhile, I need to give the legs some rest – speaking of legs…
Tonight’s featured bird definitely has some long ones. Add to that an extremely long down-curved bill. Pretty much the iconic shape for an Ibis although Ron might get a kick out of the fact that the Roseate Spoonbill is in the same family – one of his nemesis birds like the Snowy Owl, but word has it he was able to get that checked off earlier in the month (link here). One could also argue that the Whimbrel and the Long-Billed Curlew (link here) would fall into the similar species set, but those are much smaller than the specimens here.
Hit the jump to see “a lot” more pictures of this new bird on my list.
Nope, these are definitely of the Ibis family. As referenced earlier, I already have the White Ibis and although not posted yet Ron and I were able to get the White-Faced Ibis down at Emiquon last year. Was also able to get those in the tin thanks to a couple of trips to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast. Definitely need to get those processed so I can get that species officially checked off my list. The specimen you are looking at here is not white so that can be ruled out. It also does not have a flat “spoon” shaped bill so Ron will not be getting upset. However, it does look very similar to the White-Faced Ibis.
They both have a rust/chestnut coloring on their body extending up to the bill. Couple that with a green or deep turquoise shading in the wings, so that doesn’t help to rule one out over the other. I did have one piece of knowledge that led to my excitement when we spotted this particular set. We were once again at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge outside Savannah Georgia in May 2015. If you recall, I promised you a prettier set of bird posts after those scary Wood Storks (link here) and now trying to deliver on that commitment. Back to my extra bit of information – the White-Faced Ibis does not hang out in Georgia. The Faced does have a fairly large range that extends predominantly through the Southwest with migrations northward. My guess they are very aware of the dangerous creatures that hang out in the Georgia swamps and smart enough to keep their distance.
With the White-Faced out of contentions, that pretty much only leaves the Glossy Ibis as the valid ID. Knowing that I did not have the Glossy, my shutter finger went into overdrive. Needed to make sure a few of these made it into the tin before they became Gator bait. Foreshadowing, yes there’s another Alligator post in the queue.
Once the images were processed in the digital darkroom, I brought out the reference books and did a little digging for the post. First thing was to confirm the regional differences with the White-Faced. Sure enough, no Georgia for the White-Faced and validated the Georgia coast was home to the Glossy – pretty much year-round as far as I could tell from Cornell’s region maps. I was surprised to see how minimal their North America region was – add almost all of Florida, the Keys, a smattering of locations along the Gulf Coast and then a breeding extension up the east coast and that essentially does it.
Ron will need to do some traveling to get this gap filled if he doesn’t already have it checked from his trips to Florida. With some extra diligence, thought there was another distinctive feature that would give the Glossy away. From the pictures, it looked like at least the male had a light or powder blue highlight outlining the end of the bill. The pictures I’d remembered from the White-Faced had …well, a whiter highlight. The picture below clearly shows that in the front specimen.
Was unable to get a firm validation on the color distinction after reading both the Glossy and the White-Faced bios. Turns out there is a better decision element involving this same feature. The highlight on the White-Faced goes all the way around (behind) the eye. In contrast, the Glossy only extends to the top and bottom of the eye. Seems like the coloring is still a key, but this is definitely a distinction that is easy to validate in the field and works for both the male and the females.
The male above was getting very aggressive with what I guessed was a female that happened to wander into the area. Figured it was mate aggression, but Cornell specifically points out that Glossies are rarely aggressive and when it comes to courting, they have a very involved display involving bowing, allopreeining and bill touching. Sure enough, the adults have similar coloring where the juvis have the duller feathering – this one apparently stepped out of place.
Here is a better shot of the Juvi. Definitely duller, but still has a bit of the outline (which as noted, does not go around the eye)
Same large snoz and lanky legs.
You can see the darker turquoise in the wings – mainly missing the deep chestnut.
Apparently this particular juvi didn’t learn its lesson. As soon as the adult got a safe distance away it started taunting it – “Your mother was a hamster and I fart in your general direction.”
Next thing I know the juvi is outright attacking the adult – sorry for the bad picture, but it caught me by surprise – not used to birds quoting Monty Python movies.
To be honest, there was a lot of tension in that little swamp pond. At one point our Glossy caught wind of a Black Vulture eyeing it from the bank. “You empty-headed animal food trough wiper – your father smelt of elderberries!” – Damn, these Glossies have quite the tongue on them
Hmm, appears that the Glossy has a wider range that expected being found in Europe, Asia and Africa. Guessing my blog friend from the UK (Brian) might have one of these checked off his list already (note, they didn’t go into much detail on where they were found in Europe, so definitely not sure of the range there).
Guess that pretty much does it for this post – very little in terms of odd facts so we’ll call it the end…
Hope you enjoyed this post on my new +1 on the list. Stay tuned, a few more birds are on their way from Georgia trip.