Pygmy Pirates – the Nastiest of Them All

Let’s just go ahead and make it an even 290 shall we!  If you have been checking back for the latest posts, then you are very aware I finally invested time to update my bird count.  One of my goals this year was to make it to the 300 mark by the end of December.  We are quickly approaching that deadline as apparent by my favorite orange and black sections in the local stores are quickly becoming scrubbed from sight in favor of the over-commercialized red and white fanfare.  I can’t even describe the level of sadness and disappointment this brings watching my holiday being pushed aside by greedy merchants.  If there is a upside to this travesty it is the fact they tend to clearance their remaining items allowing me to scoop them up at a reasonable price point.  For those new to haunting NEVER buy items at full price (advice that, ironically, probably fuels the desire to push the accelerator pedal to Christmas).  Enough ranting, show me the meat!

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Hit the jump to read a bit more about the latest Lake Tahoe pirate find.

So, the results of the bird count update put me at 288.  Not stellar by any means, but I can say that is 288 birds photographed minimally at a level you can discern their species and featured here on the blog sometime over the last 14+ years of its existence.  As with most things, the moment you stick a stake in the ground it becomes out of date.  The last post inched that that up to 289.  Turns out there was ANOTHER surprise find while I was processing the Tahoe trip pictures.  I would have likely overlooked it had it not been for the doubt manifested by the Quail find.  Just to put my mind at ease, took a quick gander at the Brown-Headed Nuthatch reference page and once again the regions did not match up.  Talk about hammering home one of my golden rules “If it moves shoot it!'”.  Scanning the other candidates list, spotted a similarly feathered species the Bushtit.  That option was right out as those Tits have dainty bills compared to the spears in my shots.  There was another Nuthatch option which happens to be the ONLY Nuthatch that hasn’t been checked off my list.  “Could it be… please let it be… holy crap it is” moment quickly followed.  So elated on the discovery that I immediately sent an email to Ron so he could bask in my happiness.

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Umm, well I’m sure it wasn’t to gloat or anything – brothers would never do that hehehe.  “Hey Ron, did you hear the one about your son proving me the opportunity for another plus one…”  wait, was that a click, I think that was a click.  Anyway, it is official, all of the Nuthatches in NA are now covered – our local White-Breasted (link here), Red-Breasted (link here), Brown-Headed (link here) and now the Pygmy.  Need to focus on that Bushtit, bummed I missed that one while I was out there.  Clearly this one and the Brown-Headed could use better execution in future encounters.  I am also smarter about the regions so I will not pass over “just another Nuthatch” when out there in the future. 

Now for an interesting observation.  You might have noticed the other specimen in the hole just above the one perched on the dead limb.  Efforts to get them both in focus ended up being an endeavor in futility.  The overcast sky was not giving enough light to keep my aperture depth where it needed to be – well, in order to keep the ISO in this galaxy.  Sacrificed the one in the hole for the full bodied one.  It wasn’t until I got in the digital darkroom that something rather eerie hit me.  Let me digitally bring you in a bit.

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

“What the hell is that!?!”  I hope it was just an optical illusion or a bad angle – maybe trial fitting a horror costume for their Haunted Hole of Terror event.  Otherwise, it looks a lot like a tick had embedded in its eye or it flew too close to some dead limbs and took a big ass splinter right to the noggin.   You would think its mate would just hope up there and grab onto it with its claws (or spear bill) and yank that sucker out.  We will never know for sure as the one in the hole popped back inside and was never seen again. Oddly, pretty sure I heard something talking like a pirate…”Ahhhyyee matey, bring me some nuts you lying, good for ‘nut’tin flea-bitten scalawag”). 

Fuzz-central when I tried changing my focus to include the hole.

Pygmy Nuthatch found at Davis Creek Regional Park, Lake Tahoe, CA in May 2019

Not many shots of this new addition, so need to get to some takeaways.  The Pygmy is quite diminutive compared to its other family members owing to its name (duh Bri).  Their region looks like someone took a paint brush and splattered it toward the western quarter of the US and down into Central America.  According to Cornell they weigh only 1/3rd of an ounce and need ~9000/calories per day to compensate for their hyper lifestyles – the patron bird of ultra-runners ha.  Pygmies are partial to the Ponderosa Pines which may contribute to their sporadic regions.  Lastly, they are known to talk like a pirate from time to time (who would have guessed? hehehe).

Just a quick one for you this time giving me a nice even 290 for the count.  Just 10 more to make it to my goal – any bets on whether I’ll be able to make it?  If it influences your wager, I will note there are no more weddings planned in California this year.   Now back to the Poodle convention.


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