Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bobwhite Returns

Today was a pretty good day for Northern Bobwhite viewing at the Lab. It has been seen off-and-on this summer, enough to make the case this bird is hanging around. I had an out-of-the-blue, mood-enhancing encounter one evening as I walked to my car, unfortunately sans camera. This morning I had my camera in hand when I tracked it down.

Technical blogging aside: these photos are embedded a bit differently, clicking on them will take you to a web album of photos. I'm deciding if I like that approach better than the way I've been uploading images; let me know what you think.

Back to the guest of honor. It's not a shy bird by any stretch. Both times I've seen it perching visibly, if not prominently, and no demure singing here. No, the call pierces the atmosphere, head tossed back and cutting loose.

Of course, any written description doesn't do the bobwhite's enthusiastic vocalizing justice. I wanted to post a clip but it ran over what Blogger allows you to upload - once I find some free-but-good video editing software I'll post a shorter version. Of course, you can head over to Slybird's Biological Ramblings where you can see what the bird was up to this evening.



Anonymous said...

I have never seen a bobwhite, but perhaps I just misidntified it. It does look much like grouse etc from far away.

noflickster said...

scienceguy288 - the voice is clearly the best identification, mostly (in my experience) you hear it before you see it. I'd be you'd know pretty quickly if you were looking at a grouse or a bobwhite.

To speak in very broad, overarching, terms: the size difference is a definite giveaway (assuming there is something present so you can estimate size), and the facial patterns are distinct - bobwhite seem to have more contrast between the throat, cheek, and eyebrow while Ruffed Grouse is more plain.

There seems to be some, but not a whole lot, of overlap in distribution, and habitat preferences probably keep them mostly out of each others way.

Of course, you can probably find a lot of exceptions to those generic "rules," especially when comparing bobwhite's native range to where we've introduced as a game bird. Because Breeding Bird Atlas work suggests there is no breeding population in our area it seems likely it's a released bird.

But they are around, hope you're able to run into one!

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