Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cassin's Kingbird

The Kate Sessions Park seemed an unlikely location for the birding adventure we enjoyed. Nestled in the San Diego urban sprawl, the park seemed poorly maintained and was full of joggers and dog-walkers. Another bird we found as we stepped out of our car was a Cassin's Kingbird. Erika immediately proclaimed, "That is NOT a Western Kingbird. Look at the white band at the end of the tail! Look at the gray breast! Look at the white malar stripe!"
The Cassin's Kingbird's range is a bit odd with most birds found in Mexico, but also New Mexico, Arizona, eastern Colorado and even southwestern South Dakota, as well as coastal California. Over most of the northern parts of its range, this flycatcher is migratory. In the United States, however, some coastal populations (in Orange and San Diego counties) are year-round residents (Tweit and Tweit 2000). This species is named for John Cassin, an ornithologist who lived in the 1800s.

Cassin's Kingbirds are often noisy and conspicuous. Our bird in the Kate Sessions Park was relatively tame. But the species can have restricted habitat and is hard to find in South Dakota.

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