Not a Vulture

We finally made it up to Springfield, Ohio for the Canine Performance Events (CPE) Invitational Nationals. I must say this is a bit overwhelming and I don’t even have four paws and a tail (although I do have the long nose for it ha). Sources indicated there are around 700 canines performing at this show and based on the large number of campers and dogs everywhere you look – thinking that might be an undercount. Raven hits the agility ring starting tomorrow. Don’t tell him, but Dad will not fault him for being nervous with all the voodoo paws pointed at him from the stands. Ruger and Benji came along for moral support … and we didn’t trust them not to throw a kegger while we were gone. Linda was surprised to see the were also holding an open “drag racing” event here. Think of it as a solo drag race for 50 yards although instead of nitro fuel they only need puppy kisses from Mommy at the finish line. Decided we would let Ruger have a go now that he has officially “crested” the one year old threshold.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our featured feathered friend.. and a lot more about our little dragster.

None of us, mom, dad and most of all Ruger have ever participated in this performance event – no idea what to expect and honestly a bit nervous that Ruger would blow a tire and end up in the fencing (sounds more thrilling than “spot a Rabbit and head off into the weeds through the large openings in the fencing hehehe). Knowing how much he loves his mom more than I, made the smart decision to have mom go to the far end while I stayed with him at the start. Got some quick instructions on what to do by the steward, set him down on the line, showed him where mom was and let them go when the lure line took off. For those not familiar, they have a line with some white baggies tied to it that the dogs chase to the finish. Having never seen one before, Ruger was a bit spooked when it took off ahead of him but he quickly blasted out more focused on getting to mom vs “catch”ing the baggie. Solid performance – stayed pretty much in a straight line and ran hard the entire way. The steward gave us some great tips to produce faster times in the future .. one being Mom should run backward at the finish rather than just standing and waiting as that slows down the dog rather than powering through to the finish line. For his first time we thought he did “Great”!

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

50 yards in 6.42 seconds. With the experience and the new knowledge, we should be able to get him “fly”ing in future runs. Will also be helpful if we get a venue with shorter grass – set Ruger down at the start and you could only see half his legs. Mom also needs to have a talk with him about proper dog sport etiquette – as he was walking back to the start, he was doing some serious trash talking to the dogs still waiting to compete – even threw in some Usain Bolt gestures.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Apologies, I should probably get to the meet of this post – dad wrapped up in bragging about his kid ha. If you caught on to the hints, you probably already know what today’s featured feathered friend is. “Crested”, “great”, “catch”, “fly”. Put those words in a bowl, drop in a pinch of “er”, turn on the mixer and you have yourself a batch of Great Crested Flycatcher. This particular one needed a bit more yeast in the batter as it didn’t raise its crest feathers very high.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Not a new bird to the blog (link here), but it is still a nice find. This particular specimen was a bit worn by the looks of its back feathers and roughed up front. This is likely due to the tough migration journey across the gulf. They typically winter in Central and the northern part of South America. While checking out their regional maps, learned that there is a population in southern Florida that choose not to migrate, favoring instead to hang out at the beaches and sip on drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of them. Hard to fault their logic.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

This one was spotted on our trip to Dauphin Island back in April 2021. Probably the second bird tinned at Shell Mounds as it was perched right next to a Prothonotary Warbler (link here). The bright glowing yellow of that Warbler caught my attention first versus the more subdued yellowing the Great Crested sports on the underside. In fact, that coloring can often be completely missed if they are not facing you. In that case you need to find the rufous coloring on the lower half of their wings. They are also known as pranksters and will often imitate other birds to throw your ID off – case in point, this one declared “I’m a Vulture!”. “Not fooling me, I saw you eat a LIVE insect seconds ago”.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

The Great Crested are one of those Flycatchers that are often heard long before they are seen, especially when they are singing/calling. I was fortunate this one was likely still exhausted from the migration and just resting on a branch in the clearing. Confirmed by Cornell’s website, these Flycatchers forage the higher levels of the tree canopy to limit competition with the numerous other members of the Tyrannidae family. At the risk of this cute Flycatcher getting added to Linda’s hate list (along with those asshat Cowbirds), this bird will often decorate their nests with shed snakeskin. Cue Linda in one..two..three “WHAT THE HELL!!!”.

Well, Ruger is now trash talking some Greyhounds out the RV window so better wrap this up before one of them demonstrates what a professional racer looks like. Take care everyone and welcome to June.

21 thoughts on “Not a Vulture”

  1. 50 yards in 6.42 seconds seems pretty darn good. What’s a typically good doggy dragster time? I don’t know if I could even run 50 yards without crashing into the fence these days. I’m pretty pathetic when it comes to running. Pretty flycatcher.

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    1. Definitely respectable for Ruger’s first race ever. Should be room for improvement..and definitely need to address all that trash talking… at least until he makes it into the upper echelons. Not sure what the good times are, but I know a Corgi went right ahead of him and got a 5.8 or .9, but those dogs are amazingly fast for their build. I gave up my speed pursuit several years back and went the ultra routes on my running – no one asks you about your time…simply did you endure to the end or not. My kind of race goal ha. Thanks for coming by Timothy.

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    1. Talk about puppy that only has two states – on and off. Go go go go go until the end of the day and he just drops and passes out exhausted. Linda’ job is to get that energy focused ha. The Great Crested is on of the more secretive Flycatchers out there – more likely to be high and deep in the trees so they are often missed. This is the first I’ve learned about a bird using reptile materials in their nest – you’d think it would give the chicks nightmares hehehe. Will note, I was occurred to me that it might actually be a deterrent for other snakes that might come looking for their nests – see the snakeskin and think either it is a hunting ground for a competitor snake or “this is what happens when Snakes stick their tongues where it don’t belong!” kind of thing. Thinking a good thesis for an ornithology student. Appreciate you coming by Cheryl and have a great rest of your weekend.

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    1. Thought you would like the concept – good idea on warming the paws up, him scratch the ground a bit on the starting line to get the pads sticky and a good bite with the claws – problem is he’d be talking smack the entire time and trying to direct the torn up grass at the dogs coming up behind him hehehe. I’ll keep you posted on how the race season progresses. Thanks for dropping in B.

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  2. I almost get the impression your Flycatcher is a gangster on a New York street, always keeping an eye on someone for “the boss”. Love the depth of field demonstration and the tack sharp bird shots. Though the “vulture” look is admittedly a bit creepy.
    Congrats to Ruger! Watch out for those greyhounds, they sandbag.

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    1. Ha, probably has a hat and a Tommy Gun hidden behind him in case things get a “cagey”. I will say, the Dauphin trip was the first time I tried to keep focus at 6.3. Before that I was primarily shooting 5.6, but all that vegetation near the subject was driving me bonkers and frustrated when the leaf was perfectly in focus but the bird was soft. There was plenty of light on that trip (once the rain stopped) so I could keep the rest of the settings where I like them. You get a bit more clutter around the subject, but a small price to pay not to get frustrated with shot after shot in the digital darkroom. I could always cheat later and manually soften the background out of focus, but as you know it is damn hard to recover a fuzzy subject. Thanks for dropping in Brad!

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  3. Great photos full of color and texture. I have to wonder at the series of events, spread over eons, that would get these birds to regularly decorate with snakeskin. Sounds very effective – would certainly make me think twice about approaching. And how cool that they will supplement with onion skins. Clever!

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    1. I have to agree with the effectiveness…. I know it would definitely work on at least one human – if Linda gets one look at that nest with those snake skins she’s high tailing it out of there pronto ha. I laughed at the onion skin nest ingredient. Wonder if that smell also keeps the mites away. More to research! Thanks for coming by Sam (still jealous of your Limpkin)

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  4. I think that Rugar is a star! BTW, didn’t Linda already know about running backwards at the finish line? Thought she has done that at all those crazy distance runs you have completed.😂 Just saying.
    Loved the vulture look! I could have that guy working for me to warn off un wanted insects on this current vacation! He could also add a warning “don’t even try that human food as it is going to kill you.” to his stare.
    Safe travels and success to the “boy wonder”. You have every right to brag!

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    1. He definitely has the right trajectory to do well in the future competitions – word of the day is focus, focus, focus, focus.. a bit of a bull in a china store when he gets distracted. Laughed at the reference to my runs apparently never seen me a finish line, NO AMOUNT of tricks could get me across any faster – these days it is more like lasso me and drag me across the finish line. Sounds like you definitely need a Flycatcher on your vacation – they slurp up insects like they are DQ Mr. Misties. Hopefully we will have lots to report on in the coming years… a bit too early for any boy wonder nicknames – his head is already getting waaaay too big (keeps going up to Raven and barking “wanna race prissy Poodle boy!?!”)

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    1. Great point.. this bird was obviously too beautiful to be a real Vulture ha! Appreciate your dropping in Siobhan (apologies if I got that wrong) and nice Sandhill in your recent post!

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  5. I like the comment above where they asked if Linda was already running backwards helping you cross the finish line back in the day. I can picture that, 🙂 this bird looks like the one I a few weeks ago, but did not know what it was, it had that soft yellow chest feathers, I knew it was a fly catcher though.

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    1. As I mentioned above, with the ultra runs it would be better if she just threw a rope around me, hooked it to the bumper of the truck and dragged me across the finish. There are a number of Flycatchers with the yellow down the chest- including a couple of Kingbirds (also FCs). If you come across one again, be sure and catch how far up the chest/neck the yellow goes. That can help ID them – ..or as in the case of the Couch’s and the Tropical Kingbird you’re probably going to have to use the BirdNet app and have it validate the song. Happy trails Sandra!

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