For National Bird Day, a Phainopepla on the Tuolumne River
It's hard to choose a favorite bird to post on National Bird Day. I have lots of favorites and they change from day to day. So I'm going with the bird I was the most pleased to find during the first days of 2019. I was on the Tuolumne River at Old Basso Bridge when I spotted a black bird in a treetop. I assumed it was a blackbird (it was black, after all), but the crest became visible and I knew right away I was looking at a Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens).
Phainopeplas are birds of the southwest deserts and they are not abundant in our area, as we are at the northern limits of their range. There have been a couple of them living along the Parkway Trail, but they may have moved on when the elderberries gave out last month.
I love them for the challenge they give me in spotting them, and for their intense red eyes. This last shot shows them pretty well. The challenge in this case was getting the camera to focus on the bird through all of the intervening branches.
Happy National Bird Day! What's your favorite bird at the moment?