Pygmy Pirates – the Nastiest of Them All

Let’s just go ahead and make it an even 290 shall we! If you have been checking back for the latest posts, then you are very aware I finally invested time to update my bird count. One of my goals this year was to make it to the 300 mark by the end of December. We are quickly approaching that deadline as apparent by my favorite orange and black sections in the local stores are quickly becoming scrubbed from sight in favor of the over-commercialized red and white fanfare. I can’t even describe the level of sadness and disappointment this brings watching my holiday being pushed aside by greedy merchants. If there is a upside to this travesty it is the fact they tend to clearance their remaining items allowing me to scoop them up at a reasonable price point. For those new to haunting NEVER buy items at full price (advice that, ironically, probably fuels the desire to push the accelerator pedal to Christmas). Enough ranting, show me the meat!

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the latest Lake Tahoe pirate find.

So, the results of the bird count update put me at 288. Not stellar by any means, but I can say that is 288 birds photographed minimally at a level you can discern their species and featured here on the blog sometime over the last 14+ years of its existence. As with most things, the moment you stick a stake in the ground it becomes out of date. The last post inched that that up to 289. Turns out there was ANOTHER surprise find while I was processing the Tahoe trip pictures. I would have likely overlooked it had it not been for the doubt manifested by the Quail find. Just to put my mind at ease, took a quick gander at the Brown-Headed Nuthatch reference page and once again the regions did not match up. Talk about hammering home one of my golden rules “If it moves shoot it!'”. Scanning the other candidates list, spotted a similarly feathered species the Bushtit. That option was right out as those Tits have dainty bills compared to the spears in my shots. There was another Nuthatch option which happens to be the ONLY Nuthatch that hasn’t been checked off my list. “Could it be… please let it be… holy crap it is” moment quickly followed. So elated on the discovery that I immediately sent an email to Ron so he could bask in my happiness.

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Umm, well I’m sure it wasn’t to gloat or anything – brothers would never do that hehehe. “Hey Ron, did you hear the one about your son proving me the opportunity for another plus one…” wait, was that a click, I think that was a click. Anyway, it is official, all of the Nuthatches in NA are now covered – our local White-Breasted (link here), Red-Breasted (link here), Brown-Headed (link here) and now the Pygmy. Need to focus on that Bushtit, bummed I missed that one while I was out there. Clearly this one and the Brown-Headed could use better execution in future encounters. I am also smarter about the regions so I will not pass over “just another Nuthatch” when out there in the future.

Now for an interesting observation. You might have noticed the other specimen in the hole just above the one perched on the dead limb. Efforts to get them both in focus ended up being an endeavor in futility. The overcast sky was not giving enough light to keep my aperture depth where it needed to be – well, in order to keep the ISO in this galaxy. Sacrificed the one in the hole for the full bodied one. It wasn’t until I got in the digital darkroom that something rather eerie hit me. Let me digitally bring you in a bit.

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

“What the hell is that!?!” I hope it was just an optical illusion or a bad angle – maybe trial fitting a horror costume for their Haunted Hole of Terror event. Otherwise, it looks a lot like a tick had embedded in its eye or it flew too close to some dead limbs and took a big ass splinter right to the noggin. You would think its mate would just hope up there and grab onto it with its claws (or spear bill) and yank that sucker out. We will never know for sure as the one in the hole popped back inside and was never seen again. Oddly, pretty sure I heard something talking like a pirate…”Ahhhyyee matey, bring me some nuts you lying, good for ‘nut’tin flea-bitten scalawag”).

Fuzz-central when I tried changing my focus to include the hole.

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Not many shots of this new addition, so need to get to some takeaways. The Pygmy is quite diminutive compared to its other family members owing to its name (duh Bri). Their region looks like someone took a paint brush and splattered it toward the western quarter of the US and down into Central America. According to Cornell they weigh only 1/3rd of an ounce and need ~9000/calories per day to compensate for their hyper lifestyles – the patron bird of ultra-runners ha. Pygmies are partial to the Ponderosa Pines which may contribute to their sporadic regions. Lastly, they are known to talk like a pirate from time to time (who would have guessed? hehehe).

Just a quick one for you this time giving me a nice even 290 for the count. Just 10 more to make it to my goal – any bets on whether I’ll be able to make it? If it influences your wager, I will note there are no more weddings planned in California this year. Now back to the Poodle convention.

16 thoughts on “Pygmy Pirates – the Nastiest of Them All”

    1. Couldn’t agree more! ..although not sure about the broken toes, I too many of those on the trails ha. I always look at my hauls from a specific outing and initially dread having to go through them all, but inevitably I will find a surprise that makes it all worth the effort. Appreciate you coming by Sam (and watch those toes!)

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    1. Exactly – a bit painful to see, just hoping it is temporary – otherwise it needs new friends willing to help it out as I would certainly help someone pull a tick out of their eye… well maybe, I may pass out from the sight of it and not be any help at all, but I would at least I would try (ask Linda sometime about the 90 degree toe I had to set for her). Appreciate you coming by Brad – missing work yet?

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      1. Not at all. I’ve begun to relax on Sunday knowing I do not have to be at work on Monday. Problem is, all the days are the same (like a Friday) and I rely on my calendar to tell them apart. I suppose that’s a good thing! šŸ™‚

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      2. Absolutely a good thing – been incredibly busy as of late and looking forward to getting through the holidays and heading off on our annual January excursion. Need to get back on the trails so I don’t get soft – foot still nagging a bit and all this damn rain … correct that… all this well filling rain is starting to bring on the crazies ha.

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  1. Clicked to your site from your comment on Sam’s blog, and enjoyed the read and pics. And I followed your links – really like your capture of the white-face, which I used to see often out on the edge of the black forest (Colorado). I’m not invested in holidays, but I agree. Will be back!

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    1. Welcome Linda and glad you enjoyed your visit. I try to give a variety of different wildlife topics on this side of Intrigued, however, admittedly I’m a bit partial to the feathered creatures. Between the mothership and this wildlife centric side I try to get at least 6 posts out a month (lately been able to get more thanks to a lot of down time at my wife’s dog shows) so hopefully we’ll have new reads when you check back. Sam definitely has some wonderful stuff on her site. Thanks again for dropping in!

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    1. Thank you although admittedly unlike the other three this one was a bit of a surprise, but I’ll definitely take it! I say “tinning” just as a personal hat tip to the days we used to use film in those tin rolls you had to drop off a the local photo hut or drugstore. Definitely do NOT miss those days at all ha! Another reader that has confidence in me, pretty soon I’m going to have to start believing it myself – I’ve chipped off a few since this post so on good track at least. I cannot believe it is almost T-Day, I keep checking the calendar as validation although it must be getting close because Linda is already planning our annual month long vacation in January. Thanks for dropping Lisa – still need to find time to take the assessment you referenced in your last post. (did you notice I finally got my friends of the blog updated)

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  2. Well, I am emjoying reading your post for sure and I just had to smile at this one. First I have to ask, Do you know about the Big Year and have you seen the movie, The Big Year? If not you definetly need to watch it, so funny. But it is a true story about counting how many birds one can see in a year. I found the movie and loved it and then found out it is a real thing. And you are doing it. Just this year I started writing down the birds I have photographed. It is hard to remember them all. That poor bird, it looked like a nut stuck in its eye. šŸ™‚

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    1. Actually the Big Year is one of my favorite movies – as you mentioned, it is extremely funny and whoever wrote that script was a birder themselves because they absolutely nailed that activity and characterization of the birding community – just like the movie Best in Show movie did for dog shows. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds to be competitive in a big year as it requires extensive travel and oftentimes travel at a moments notice when a particular sighting gets reported. I am a huge lifer count fan though and do keep that count up to date – must have a photograph of it and be featured here on the blog – like the Pygmy here. although the count is currently out of date (at 295)/ I try to keep the count on the nav bar on the left side of this blog. I find it helps to keep a spreadsheet of the birds I find. I found a pretty good listing of all the birds available in North America and used that as a base. Now I just put an ‘X’ next to everything I find in that spreadsheet. If you would like to read more about other famous person’s big year, I highly recommend Kingbird Highway (https://wildlifeintrigued.com/2020/10/18/recollection-you-call-yourself-a-birder/) and my favorite Lost Among The Birds (https://wildlifeintrigued.com/2018/12/08/recollection-lost-among-the-birds/). Kenn will absolutely stun you with his adventure and Neil will make you laugh. Glad you enjoyed the post Sandra and good luck on keeping your bird count – always fun when you can add new birds like your latest post with the Herons.

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      1. I will check those links out, thank you. I have been a birder since I was 9 years old and my grandfather built my first bird feeder. I find it so much fun and relaxing at the same time. I am glad to have met you here and look forward to seeing more of your photos.

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      2. Wow, you definitely have me on the birding front – I started in high school (wow, that seems like a long time ago now ha) and then dropped it due to college and a hectic early years in my career before picking it up about 15 years ago when I started this blog. Definitely agree on the relaxing front and a great way to spend time with my wife and brother Ron who are also into birding. Flattered you enjoy my musing and shots and look forward to engaging over our feathered friends – oh, and feel free to offer an help with regards to my shots or birding knowledge – I’m kind of addicted to learning. Take care!

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