Friday, June 15, 2012

Pyrrhuloxia

What a strange name--Pyrrhuloxia. Apparently the name is derived from the Greek for reddish (pyrrhos) and for the bill shape (loxia). Another name is Desert Cardinal. Found in the southwest United States and northern Mexico, the Pyrrhuloxia is closely related to the Northern Cardinal. Their ranges overlap, but generally the Pyrrhuloxia is found in drier habitats.

We found a Pyrrhuloxia at the bird feeder in Salinero, downstream along the Rio Grand from Falcon Dam. In early March, when we visited Texas, Pyrrhuloxia flocks begin to break down as the males become aggressive and territorial. Curiously, where their ranges overlap, Pyrrhuloxia and cardinals do not show interspecific conflicts. Due to habitat destruction, Pyrrhuloxia numbers have declined in the past fifty years (Tweit and Thompson 1999).

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