Monday, December 05, 2011

I Am Curious, Yellow?

First of all, to some of you "googlers" who got here because of the title:  this has absolutely nothing to do with the 1967 movie of the same name. As a matter of fact, this has everything to do with birds and bird photography. So there.

Now where was I? Oh yes, birds!

The recent arousal of interest in wagtails spawned in part by the appearance of several species at the La Mesa Ecopark brought forth some serious discussions as to the method of identifying them. The White Wagtails were the easy ones, being the only kind that has a black and white color. The similarly hued Forest Wagtail inhabits, as its name implies, wooded areas, unlike the Whites which prefer flowing streams. So it would be impossible to get confused between these two species.

Which brings us to the Grey and Yellow Wagtails. In their non-breeding (winter) plumage, the possibility of mistaken identifications is alarmingly quite common. When we first saw the non-white wagtails at Ecopark, my first  impression was that they were Yellow. After all they do have yellow underparts. It was only when the photos were posted via the internet that the analyses from our birding friends ensued. The yellow rump and white patch on the feathers all pointed to the fact that these birds were Grey Wagtails!

Last Saturday while at the Agripark in Los Banos, Cynthia and I saw lots of wagtails! From a distance they all look the same - brownish upperparts, yellowish below and a white stripe over the eye. They were all frolicking on the fallow fields next to us. 

The Kennedy guide describes the habits of Yellow Wagtails as: "Often encountered in groups ranging from a few to hundreds of individuals in open country, particularly ricefields, marshy areas and parks, on the ground at all elevations." A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by Robert S. Kennedy, et al, page 308. (emphasis mine). Whereas Grey Wagtails almost never inhabit open areas but rather on or along stream beds.

some yellow in the underparts
very little yellow underparts

I am curious, Yellow?

1 comment:

maiabird said...

Thanks for this post! I am also currently in a "wagtail" phase... trying my best to study and master their field marks =)