some recent ID pitfalls; miscellanea

First some miscellanea from today, 11 June. A very-rare-in-summer male Lesser Scaup and 2 Cattle Egrets were at the main Dairy Mart pond. The egrets may well be the same two individuals present sporadically in that area since at least last December and which roost at the ponds but probably forage primarily on the Tijuana side of the border. And there are two adult Reddish Egrets today along the Chula Vista bayfront.

Now a couple ID pitfalls (real or likely) that have arisen over the past 2+ weeks, mostly via eBird reports. First, as everyone knows, it was a very good winter and spring for Pine Siskins, and some lingerers made it very late--to at least 29 May. (And a few were still present in just the past few days out on San Clemente Island.) There are a few coastal records from past years as late as 31 May, and the latest there is 6 June 1999 in the TRV. One was reported yesterday in the TRV, but it turns out to have been a juvenile Lawrence's Goldfinch (small finch, lots of blurry streaking below, lots yellow in wing). The second pitfall involves reports of male Rufous Hummingbirds in late May and June. The latest documented record in spring for a male Rufous is through 19 May 2018 in the TRV. But this year, several Rufous have been reported later than that date and into early June, none photo'd. Any such report between 20 May and early July needs to be documented with photos. (Southbound males can arrive perhaps as early as the very end of June, although early or especially mid-July is more typical.) Yesterday, 10 June, a very interesting male Allen's/Rufous was seen and photographed in residential Carlsbad by Jane Mygatt and Kathy Aldern. They properly diagnosed it as either an odd Allen's or as uncertain! Photos of it are viewable at:

Many Allen's at this time of year are faded, worn, and somewhat ratty and in molt (unlike typical Rufous, which are fresher and do not molt until much later in season), and this bird has the green feathering on the back looking very muted so that the overall impression of the entire upperparts could easily be of it being dull rufous, especially if the bird was watched only briefly or in certain lights. Note how what greenish color there is varies depending on the angle and lighting, sometimes being quite minimal and dull (mix of grayish and a little rufous). But also note that the tail feathers have the shape of an Allen's (very narrow outermost feather [R5] and an R2 that is NOT dimpled--that is, does not show an indentation just short of the tip). The bird appears to be molting some throat fethers (?), thus the white spotting visible there (unless that signifies that the bird is only about a year old...). Several hummingbird experts concur that this bird is almost certainly a worn, faded Allen's.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego

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