English and Scientific names:


Number of individuals: 

1 - Female or immature male

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Plaquemines Parish

Specific Locality:

Hwy 23 just downriver from the Conoco-Phillips refinery at Alliance at 16096 Belle Chase Hwy.

Date(s) when observed:

February 17 and 24, 2008

Time(s) of day when observed:  

4:40-5:50 p.m. on the 17th; 3:30-3:45 and 4:45-5:00 p.m. on the 24th

Reporting observer and address:

Phillip Wallace

New Orleans, LA


Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

David Muth (Dan Purrington joined us and saw and identified the bird on 2/17 just before it went to roost.)

Other observers accompanying reporter who independently identified the bird(s):

Many other birders saw and identified the bird the week after it was discovered.

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Initially the light conditions were poor, with significant backlighting. During the 1 hour 10 minutes of viewing, the bird was seen at many different angles, often with the afternoon sun behind the observer.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10x40 binoculars; Pentax Scope

Distance to bird(s): 

15-50 yards

Duration of observation:

The bird was in view almost the entire 70 minutes on the first day.


In bare pecan trees in large yard with plenty of open space. Adjacent to a citrus orchard, where the Fork-tailed and kingbirds went to roost. The location was a little less than a mile from the Mississippi River.

Behavior of bird: 

The bird was closely associated with a flock of Western Kingbirds (max of 15 on 2/17) and 1-2 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. It would perch in the bare pecan trees, as well as other trees in the area, usually from the mid-elevation to the top of the trees. It also perched on the power lines with the other tyrannids before going to roost. It made short and long sallies from its perch catching insects on the wing, several times spreading its tail in flight.


The bird was shaped superficially like a Scissor-tailed flycatcher, but was much less bulky in side-by-side comparison. It was also less bulky than Western Kingbirds in side-by-side comparision. The two long, black rectrices appeared to be slightly longer than the length of the body, with the right rectrix being slighly longer than the left one. The black cap contrasted starkly with the white cheeks. The white on the cheeks extended onto the nape and almost touched, but there was a thin streak of gray on the nape separating the white from the cheeks. The pale gray back also contrasted with the darker wings and black cap. At times the primaries seemed darker than the rest of the wing, but perhaps this was an illusion. There were two faint wingbars that appeared dirty white in the scope. The innermost terial showed a broader pale border than the other tertials when the wings were folded, similar to a Great-crested Flycatcher. In a flight shot by Bill Bergen, the spread primaries are unnotched, indicating a female or immature male. The underparts appeared pure white, in stark contrast to the upperparts. At times the bird appeared to be missing feathers in the upper left part of the breast, but that could have been wind blowing the feathers. The eye was dark and the bill was black. At times when the tail was spread in flight, it had a distinctive lyre shape, and even at rest, the longest rectrices often appeared slightly bowed, i.e., separated in the middle and touching at the tips.




Similar species:

Color eliminates Scissor-tailed and the long rectrices eliminate dark kingbirds.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Stills grabbed from video by Wallace accompany this report. Video will be submitted to the LBRC. Photos by Muth have been submitted. Many other photos were taken and linked to LABIRD.


Previous experience with this species: 

Saw for the first time in Panama last summer.

Identification aids:

After observation: Looked at Birding article by Mark W. Lockwood (April, 1999) and article by McCaskie and Patten in Western Birds (Vol. 25, no. 3, 1994)

This description is written from: 

Memory, notes taken by Muth and Wallace at the time of the observation and looking at video and photos of the bird.


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Phillip Wallace

Date and time: 

February 25, 2008; 11:00 p.m.