A Long One

First off, want to extend a belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there. I can’t imagine the stress and willpower it takes to raise a child, especially one like me – hats off, keep up the good work. I purposely waited to publish this post as this weekend brought with it a tremendous amount of sadness. Yesterday officially marks the end of a complete cycle of holidays/celebrations since losing my mother on Mother’s Day last year (technically a week ago because of the floating holiday – link here). As the year went by I would slowly come to terms with the emptiness and then a holiday or event would immediately bring it back front and center – major holidays – one less gift to ponder, birthdays – one less card to receive or buy, exciting life accomplishes – one less phone call and most of those are coupled with one less visit. I think it was extra hard as Mom was the last of the parental figures in our lives – we were officially on our own. Decided to go for a short five mile run yesterday to be with my thoughts. Eleven emotional miles later I had remembered numerous good times, reminded myself all the sacrifices she had made, recommitted to all the life lessons she lovingly bestowed and gave one last thanks for the moral foundation instilled in me. Acceptance will be easier from this point on. Our Mom and Dad were a true blessing.

In recognition of a long year, thought I would go with a featured feathered friend that also knows a thing or two about “long”.

Crissal Thrasher found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Henderson, NV in March 2023

Hit the jump to learn more about the prolonged hunt for this long-billed one.

Kind of feeling bad bringing you another rather monotoned bird after featuring the Juniper (link here) and the Townsend’s (link here) just last month. At least today’s feature does break up the grays with a reddish rump common in this family of Thrashers and Mockingbirds. It also has a black and white mustache which I think is a nice touch.

Crissal Thrasher found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Henderson, NV in March 2023

To be honest, it is the shape of this bird that gets all the attention – in particular that long slender curved bill you have probably been staring at since you saw the first image. I can just imagine the amount of taunting and name calling this species has to endure from fellow classmates – kids can be harsh, it’s what gives us thick skins to deal with idiots in the future. It is very clear when you witness one of these Crissal Thrashers in the wild that they are quite comfortable in their bodies and there isn’t a shy feather on them as they NEVER … and I mean NEVER seem to stop chattering away.

Crissal Thrasher found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Henderson, NV in March 2023

Oddly enough, the real problem is actually finding one. When I made my list of targets for this year’s trip to Vegas back in March, I quickly added the Crissal Thrasher near the top of that list. I was lucky enough to find one during a previous trip back in 2013. Going to spare you the link back to that as those pictures are definitely subpar. This year it took a solid three days to tin it.

That previous find was at Henderson’s Bird Viewing Preserve which has held a position in my top five birding locations since the day a coworker recommended we give it a visit. A set of retention ponds in the middle of the desert directly under the flight path of a major airport. These are dream conditions – a strong habit to draw the birds in and then a steady drone from the airplanes that results in the inhabitants being conditioned to human noises – our footsteps are essentially ignored by a majority of the residents – with the exception of those “Chickens of the Sea” the Coots – damn are those annoying (link here).

Crissal Thrasher found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Henderson, NV in March 2023

Speaking of annoying, Linda and I have been noticing something while out in the field. It might be due to our heavy use of the Merlin Sound ID App or maybe we are just getting old. Time after time we encounter kids that are essentially screaming at the top of their lungs to each other. Two little girls at Spring Mountain State Park nearly shattered my eardrums and all they were doing was walking across the picnic area. The preserve was hosting several large groups of school children involved in some form of community clean up – note, they should be applauded for participating in that. We heard them coming at least a half mile out. The crescendo continued to build on their approach – this was even too much for the airplane condition birds, they all left for quieter ponds. As they passed, Merlin pegged solid black from the cliques trying to drown out each other. Turned and asked Linda – “What could there be about picking up trash that requires one to scream!?!”. Even the volunteers in the office were annoyed as they warned us on that third day to get out to a certain area before the kids arrived.

Crissal Thrasher found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Henderson, NV in March 2023

Each day we came up empty we were taunted by eBird reports to the contrary. It was there and decided to get an assist from the volunteers before heading out on our third and final attempt. We quickly made our way to the recommended area. Ten minutes later, my ears pricked up – there was the signature chatter, now where the hell was it. Linda gets the credit for locating it first, I was running around like a headless chicken trying to triangulate the calls – quite the humorous show to behold. Anyway, once she sighted me in, the really hard part commenced- getting something in the tin. It promptly moved into a dense tree, purposely chosen to generate as much frustration as possible for anyone trying to get a picture. Now the headless chicken movement was partnered with an award winning tapestry of cursing and pleading. These shots are the best of the lot – you can at least tell it is a bird and the important bill shape is fairly distinguishable. Thankfully tinned just under the time wire.

Crissal Thrasher found at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve in Henderson, NV in March 2023

Need to get you some interesting facts before you head off. Crissals are a year round resident of the southwest. The tip of Nevada is roughly the northern limits with the western portion of Texas representing the farthest to the east. The black and white mustache is a good field indicator to distinguish it from the Curve-Billed Thrasher (link here), although, to be honest, the bills are far enough different to easily distinguish the two overlapping species. True to most Thrashers, the Crissal prefer the ground. The grief generated from the dense tree would be nothing compared to trying to get a picture had it opted for all the scrub at Henderson. My assumption they would still be at Henderson aligns with Cornell’s comment that their banding records indicate they rarely travel more than a mile or so from their capture point. They take the “stays in Vegas” slogan to heart.

With that, better let you go. Take care and have a wonderful rest of your week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s