Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Western Wood-pewee at South Padre Island, 5/24/16

Migration is winding down in the Rio Grande Valley but there's always the possibility of some wayward waif getting lost.  So with that in mind Honey and I made another springtime run out to South Padre Island.  Sheepshead was pretty dull with just a Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow Warbler and a "Traill's" Flycatcher which sounded more like an Acadian than anything but I think it was a Willow.  

The Convention Center seemed equally dull with Yellow and Magnolia Warblers and Eastern Wood-Pewee. Ken Wilson showed up  and we found three Eastern Kingbirds and two Westerns.  At this point we split up and Ken searched behind the convention center while I looked around the water feature some more.  As I approached the gazebo I heard the faint but distinct burry plaintive "peeer" call of a Western Wood-pewee. And there it was perched on a branch and making an occasional flycatching sortie.  I got a few photos and pulled out my iPhone and recorded it as a voice memo.

I called to Ken and the bird was gone.  So we looked for it a while and split up again and I went back to the gazebo and there was the Western Wood-Pewee again.  I got betters photos this time and ran after Ken. The bird flew off seemingly behind the Convention Center and we chased pewees back there getting good looks at them but only hearing Eastern-Wood-Pewee.  Well, Ken had to go and of course the Western showed up again on the same perch one last time.

Visual identification of Eastern and Western Wood-Pewees is close to impossible but Western generally has a smaller darker bill which this bird seems to have.  There's a good ID article in a past issue of ABA's Birding magazine which addresses this problem.  I seem to recall a previous record from the SPI but eBird shows no RGV records so this was a really good bird.  My years of living in SE Arizona, where I often heard this bird during summer, really paid off.

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