Odd Stuff (like Chopi Blkbrd?)

Brian Fitch

I visited several sites this morning, starting with a walk in the grass at Crissey, which actually left me with dry feet.  Stirred up four Savannahs, and six Am. Pipits, but the odd highlight was a bird briefly with the starling flock.  It was mostly black with a brown tinge, except for a panel in the secondaries of lighter brown feathers, and the eyes were black.  It was about the size of the starlings, but it's posture was more upright than local blackbirds.  It seemed more like a cowbird in shape, except that the beak, though broad based, curved down and out to a fine point.  It then took flight, and headed to the lagoon, but eventually swerved back over me and landed rather distantly, where it was briefly joined by a smaller brown bird that looked like a female/juv cowbird.  Then both birds flew toward and over me with the female bird showing a forked tail, as well as some stripes on the body.  Later the male returned alone and flew all over Crissey without ever landing again within my view; I lost it well off toward the Coast Guard Pier.

Many years ago, Keith Hansen in Marin reported a Chopi Blackbird in his area.  I looked the species up, and the following day recognized the same bird when it appeared at S Lake Merced with the icterid flock there.  After checking photos today of Shiny Cowbird and seeing the wrong beak, I once again reviewed Chopi, and it looks fine for what I saw this morning, though I did not try to review the entire blackbird family.  Keep your eyes peeled for it around Crissey, even though it's a likely escapee. 

The only other unusuals were an Acorn Woodpecker flying by the East Wash, and a Turkey Vulture perched at Middle Lake, one of the few I've ever seen sitting around the city.  I suspect that both were smoke or east wind affected, and wonder what other oddities are out there.

Brian Fitch

Join SFBirds@groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.