Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

I cannot believe we are nearing the close of July. It probably doesn’t help now that I joined the retired ranks I’m unable to remember what day of the week it is, but flying through an entire month, now that I notice. Technically more “running” than “flying” as this was the first multi-race month in a very very long time. In honor of kissing another month goodbye, thought I’d go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to see just a couple more shots of our colorful bandit.

I had another post ready to go in the “Doves on Parade” series and decided it was time to give you a break from those duller birds and give you a quick burst of color. The magenta sheen of the White-Tipped Dove has a subdued beauty to it, but the brilliant yellow of the Great Kiskadee will brighten those eyes wide open. Balance it out with the white head, black mask and auburn back/wings you have yourself a Flycatcher that can stand its own against most of the New World Warblers.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

This specimen was found last January at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park situated near Mission, Texas. The same state park that recently brought you all the Doves (and now one ready to go in the hopper). For the extremely limited North America region for this particular species, it is surprisingly easy to find if you happen to be in it – specifically the southern tip of Texas. In our visits from South Padre Island over to McAllen, we’ve had the pleasure of frequently seeing the Kiskadee. Typically sight is secondary to being alerted to their presence by the sound of an obnoxious barking Chihuahua with a high pitched squeaker toy. At least that is my description of their extremely vocal calls – whoever named this creature thought it sounded like “KIS-ka-dee” which led to its name. That is a stretch for me, although that may be due to all the countless hours of ignoring the advice of my parents and brutalizing the ears listening to the stereo at 11.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

The Great Kiskadee is primarily a Central and South American Flycatcher. Their beefy build puts them as the top of the Tyrant Flycatcher size chart. This characteristic allows them to go beyond the typical Flycatcher prey and snatch a tasty tadpole or small fish directly from the water when their palate tires of insects, spiders and even snakes. The best thing about them is they tend to be very tolerant of people, especially those of us who carry around big glass. Maybe it is their overall size, assertive behavior or possibly becoming to accustomed to the attention they draw whenever they are spotted – in any case, they are very accommodating and typically give you a decent amount of time to get your settings dialed in before taking off.

This was as short series (there were Doves to shoot ha) and thus will quickly move on to the interesting takeaway and get you on your way to your next destination. Cornell pointed out the black mask acts similar to the black lines athletes use to cut the glare when competing in the sun. This apparently allows them to hunt better when the light is reflecting off the water or some other reflective surface. Not sure what to say about that, but in my very long career competing in baseball and then softball in the corp leagues I never once used the black mascara and did just fine – looking back, maybe that would have got me selected by the Yankees like my father.

Take it easy everyone and hope to see ya’ again real soon now .. and no I am not putting my mask back on.

20 thoughts on “Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits”

    1. Similar for sure, but this Flycatcher is larger than even the Hairy Woodpecker version (which is significantly larger than the Downy if they don’t have those down there)- more on the Robin front. The Downy definitely has it hands down on the call pitch! Appreciate you dropping in Timothy.

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      1. Definitely have similar black head stripes – they do not reveal it very often, but they also have a yellow strip inside the black on the top of their head. If they pop it out for you it looks like they are wearing a Russian fur hat.

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  1. A beautiful masked bird. As I looked for the German Wikipedia, I found the name was even more reckless: “Schwefelmaskentyrann” and wondered, how someone figured out something with “tyranny” for a bird. But if time had wings, maybe it has yellow feathers, too.

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    1. Wow, that is a huge name on the German front – (14 consonants). I did some digging and came up empty on how they got tagged with the Tyrant family name – I did find out they are the largest family of birds, with more than 400 species so maybe it has something to do with that – if anybody has more background on that, please share it with us. Excellent quandary there Puzzlebume. As always, truly appreciate you dropping by.

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      1. With the help of this, I found an answer in the web:
        “Why are tyrant flycatchers called tyrant?
        Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, adopted the tyrant name when he was classifying the group of birds to which the kingbird belongs with the family name Tyrannidae, because he admired Catesby’s work. Since then there are a number of birds in this group referred to as tyrants.”
        Unfortunately, the link doesn’t work “for legal reasons” (from the EU), so you probably can read : https://tucson.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/naturally-curious-tyrant-flycatchers-have-enjoyed-their-name-since-1700s/article_167d9b20-d667-5a98-a35d-f1e32c65fc0a.html

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      2. Thanks for the additional research – so due to the Kingbird association the full family got the moniker which grew larger and larger as more birds were put into that grouping. Very intriguing – thanks to your effort I (and likely the rest of my readers) learned something new – awesome!

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    1. Excellent point! Definitely a rival for all three of those birds, but I have to hand it to the Shrikes, they are truly tyrannical when it comes to killing their prey. Thankfully the Kiskadee simply kills and devours their prey contrasted with the Shrike … or should I say Vlads who prefer to impale their victims on thorns and other sharp objects to make sure everyone in the area knows who the kings is ha! I’ll see what I can do on the Dove front although I am in bonus time so might take the opportunity to hit the wayback machine and get one from awhile ago popped off the queue first. Thanks for dropping in B!

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    1. It is absolutely awful. I tell Linda I knew the day by what meeting or deliverable I had due – Monday status meetings, Tuesday leadership meetings, Wed architecture forums, Thurs time to get some actual work done before Friday council metrics. Now its like wake up, stretch, get a run in, work on the lot, design some Halloween props, hit the core, maybe play some drums, see whats cooking on the net and then repeat the next day. Thank god Linda keeps my calendar organized or I’d be missing appointments right and left! All in all – life is good hehehehe.

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    1. Shocked you haven’t seen this large Flycatcher – you are very close to their stomping grounds and figured one or two would get lost and push further north to you. In any case, glad I was able to show you something new. To be accurate, it isn’t so much the heat keeping me indoors, but rather my wife’s insistence I stay in .. due to the heat. I’ll sneak out of the bedroom with my running clothes on, grab my hat and just before I make it out, there she is with that stern look of hers. Sigh, get hauled off to the hospital twice in your lifetime with heat stroke and you get permanently labeled. Grudgingly take off my shoes and head up to the den. Hmmm, wonder if she would notice me jumping out our second floor window?!?

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  2. The bird is so special with a black mask around its eyes. I learned today from your post that this mask helps to hunt better cutting reflections from the water. It’s interesting!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That feature was intriguing to me as well – odd they didn’t apply that same line of thinking to the Shrike which have a similar feature albeit more aft of the eye versus the full mask of the Kiskadee. Based on the scenarios I’ve been able to witness, they are definitely efficient hunting during sunny days so that built in glare reducer seems to be working out for them. Thanks for dropping in Kaya.

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