Friday, February 14, 2014

Flying Nightmares, Beloved Belding's Yellowthroats, and The Hummingbird of Anxiety

Old Man Pelican. All photos today from the Todos Santos area, Baja California Sur.

Frigatebirds are the best. They usually look like this; majestic, awe-inspring, and confident. However, it does not take much for them to turn into living nightmares.

If I showed this photograph to a nonbirder and told them these birds have been known to snatch babies from their cribs, they would probably believe me.

Ah yes, the last thing countless toddlers will ever see.

I struggle to come up with an apt description of this...perhaps an example of post-nuclear-fallout-avifauna.

Motmots aren't the only birds who can tick-tock their tails...which perhaps is a scary notion to some.

Laughing Gull, Mexicrushed.

We saw a handful of Herring Gulls at Punta Lobos, just south of Todos Santos, which seemed to have the best gull concentrations in the area. Larids gather there in the afternoon to eat discarded fish scraps from the panga fisherman; unfortunately I failed to pull out anything very remarkable; the best was the Laughing Gull (above) and a disturbing number of yellow/orange-legged Western Gulls. If you go there expecting Yellow-footed Gulls, I can only offer the old adage "caution is warranted".

If you are a white person and move to Baja, you end up looking something like this after a few years.

There are hordes of Belding's Yellowthroats at La Poza, the big pond on the beach in Todos Santos. It was nice to see so many, considering the tiny distribution this subspecies (beldingi) has.

Hella yellow underparts.

Here's a considerably duller-looking individual, but still with significant yellow coming up the side of the mask and onto the forehead. A younger male?

Females were surprisingly pretty easy to tell from Common Yellowthroat...surprising because I wasn't using a field guide and just thought I'd wing it. As with males, there is much yellow on the head, which frames a grayish auricular patch.

Scott's Orioles were greatly outnumbered by Hooded, but they were still easy to find. Every morning I could hear their soothing meadowlarky songs sung from our house.

There are birders out there who think it is completely unethical to photograph a bird on its nest...ever. Why? Because birds can't handle the stress and will abandon their nest, which is often true...but always is a considerable stretch of the imagination. Well, have a look at this disturbed, stress-ridden bird. It is the Hummingbird of Anxiety. What do you say to do this crush? The bird is pretty much life-sized in this picture. Is your blood boiling?

Look at her sleep. What a sleepy hummingbird. This Xantus's Hummingbird was nesting inside a restaurant in Pescadero where we had lunch one day, so I wasn't exactly worried about disturbing her. Maybe she likes the big fiestas and live music they have every weekend...the waitress said she nested there last year too.

Male Xantus's Hummingbirds are too cool to not stand next to and blow hundreds of photos on.

Young male Costa's Hummingbirds have some fresh facemelt growing into their faces, but only when the sun hits them right.

I could not identify this bird.


  1. Buzzing from a FABULOUS-freaking BIRD parade of Bitchin' Baja Biota.
    Man, that last bird has a SUPER cool eye--wow.

    Honestly, I LOVE, love, LOVE the ratty silhouette frigate bird shots. Good Lord. Looks like an Edward Gorey drawing (see Instantly conjures up old-school, scary-as-hell "fairytales" that will creep you out, and leave you mildly scarred for life.

    1. Oh yes, Edward Gorey indeed! I need to borrow a child to torture with these images.

  2. Cool/Gross/Startling/Awesome/Fantastic

    Then again, that mostly applies to Frigatebirds normally as well.
    If you've got the dermal space, you should consider getting one of these undead Frigatebirds tattooed on the other leg.