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comments on the Crested Caracara and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

10:56 am

First off, in minor bird news, a couple Neotropic Cormorants and an adult Reddish Egret continue at the San Diego River mouth, and at least two Reddish Egrets continue on south San Diego Bay. The long-staying, somewhat sporadic, hybrid American X Black Oystercatcher continues at La Jolla, and it continues to be reported somewhat regularly by some observers as a true “American” Oystercatcher–which indeed is not to far off from what it looks like. It has generated a fair bit of healthy debate in the past couple years over its taxonomic placement.
The immature Crested Caracara at Point Loma on 2 July was definitely the same individual as seen in the Ballona area of Los Angeles County on 4 June and then at Irvine in Orange County on 7 June. The exact wear pattern to the primaries matches up in the photos.
The Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher story also on 2 July brings up a couple interesting/sobering observations. This bird will represent approximately the 24th state record, of which almost all come from September and October. There are previous June reports from along the Colorado River near Blythe on 17 Jun 2018 and, perhaps more related to our record, one up in coastal San Mateo County on 14 Jun 1998. One bird in Sonoma County from at least 10-24 August 2021 could well have been present much of the summer but was not found until then. One would think that an early July individual may be somewhat settled for an extended period rather than still be migrating, but who really knows. The couple streets where almost everyone got to see the bird on the 2nd is NOT overly appealing habitat, it would seem, so perhaps the bird is still in the general area but has shifted far enough away as to be AWOL? But the fact that it started out perched in nicer habitat a half block away luckily in a birder’s yard (S. & K. Mayers), but was then never seen back in that yard again, is a good illustration of what volume and quality of rare birds must be floating around at random sites that just never get found. Much of it all depends simply on serendipity.
–Paul Lehman,  San Diego