Batting Leadoff for the Yellow Bandits

I cannot believe we are nearing the close of July. It probably doesn’t help now that I joined the retired ranks I’m unable to remember what day of the week it is, but flying through an entire month, now that I notice. Technically more “running” than “flying” as this was the first multi-race month in a very very long time. In honor of kissing another month goodbye, thought I’d go with this for today’s featured feathered friend.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to see just a couple more shots of our colorful bandit.

I had another post ready to go in the “Doves on Parade” series and decided it was time to give you a break from those duller birds and give you a quick burst of color. The magenta sheen of the White-Tipped Dove has a subdued beauty to it, but the brilliant yellow of the Great Kiskadee will brighten those eyes wide open. Balance it out with the white head, black mask and auburn back/wings you have yourself a Flycatcher that can stand its own against most of the New World Warblers.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

This specimen was found last January at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park situated near Mission, Texas. The same state park that recently brought you all the Doves (and now one ready to go in the hopper). For the extremely limited North America region for this particular species, it is surprisingly easy to find if you happen to be in it – specifically the southern tip of Texas. In our visits from South Padre Island over to McAllen, we’ve had the pleasure of frequently seeing the Kiskadee. Typically sight is secondary to being alerted to their presence by the sound of an obnoxious barking Chihuahua with a high pitched squeaker toy. At least that is my description of their extremely vocal calls – whoever named this creature thought it sounded like “KIS-ka-dee” which led to its name. That is a stretch for me, although that may be due to all the countless hours of ignoring the advice of my parents and brutalizing the ears listening to the stereo at 11.

Great Kiskadee found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

The Great Kiskadee is primarily a Central and South American Flycatcher. Their beefy build puts them as the top of the Tyrant Flycatcher size chart. This characteristic allows them to go beyond the typical Flycatcher prey and snatch a tasty tadpole or small fish directly from the water when their palate tires of insects, spiders and even snakes. The best thing about them is they tend to be very tolerant of people, especially those of us who carry around big glass. Maybe it is their overall size, assertive behavior or possibly becoming to accustomed to the attention they draw whenever they are spotted – in any case, they are very accommodating and typically give you a decent amount of time to get your settings dialed in before taking off.

This was as short series (there were Doves to shoot ha) and thus will quickly move on to the interesting takeaway and get you on your way to your next destination. Cornell pointed out the black mask acts similar to the black lines athletes use to cut the glare when competing in the sun. This apparently allows them to hunt better when the light is reflecting off the water or some other reflective surface. Not sure what to say about that, but in my very long career competing in baseball and then softball in the corp leagues I never once used the black mascara and did just fine – looking back, maybe that would have got me selected by the Yankees like my father.

Take it easy everyone and hope to see ya’ again real soon now .. and no I am not putting my mask back on.

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