LOUISIANA BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE REPORT FORM
1. English and Scientific names: Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)
2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage): 4 = 2 seen, 2 heard-only at 4 separate locations in 3 separate parishes in northwest, Louisiana.
3. Locality: LOUISIANA: (parish)
1. 10-30-11 = 1 indiv, Caddo Par- 204 Stephenson St, Shreveport, Louisiana,
2. 11-12-11 = 1 indiv. Red River Par, Red River National Wildlife Refuge, Bayou Pierre Unit, Yates Tract, in Harmon quad
3. 1-02-12 and 1-19-12 = 1 indiv, Bossier Parish- 7/10 mile south of lock and dam #5 on Red River near Ninock in East Point quad.
4. 2-07-12 = 1 indiv., Caddo Parish, Hartz Island Rd at Gayle Levee Rd in Elm Grove quad
Specific Locality: _________________________________________________________
4. Date(s) when observed:
3. 1-02 and 1-19-12
5. Time(s) of day when observed:
1. 10-30-11 beginning at Approx 0830.
2. 11-12-11 beginning at approx 0800.
3. 1-02-12 beginning at approx 0830 a.m. and 1-19-12 at approx 0730 a.m.
4. 2-07-12 at approx 3 p.m.
6. Reporting observer and address:
Bossier City, La. 71112
7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): With Jeff Trahan on 11-12-11, 1-19-12 and 2-07-12
8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s): Others following, with exception of Martha Leonard, who had first discovered the Hartz Island Rd indiv, saw the Yates bird. Observers there included Jean Trahan, Charlie Lyon, Clyde Massey, Hubert Hervey, Larry Raymond and others.
9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):
2. We were facing the sun when first sight observing, then brief but only slightly better views
3. 1-02-11 Facing sun at first when indiv which was silent at first when identified, then good, brief views with sun behind me, 1-19-12 Brief but good views with sun behind us.
4. Heard only
10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition): Brunton eterna 11x45 binoculars in good optical condition.
11. Distance to bird(s):
1. Approx within 15-20 feet.
2. Within 15 for sight and up to 100+,- feet heard-only.
3. 1-02-12= Between 10 feet and 30 feet for sight, from close up to approx 75 feet for calls, 1-19-12= from 15 to 45 feet for sight, from close to approx 75-100+,- feet for calls.
4. Very close to, also within approx 30-50 feet for calls. Jeff also heard the call but said he never obtained satisfactory views through the viewfinder as he was attempting to photograph the bird in a dense area with quite a few other birds and movement going on in the immediate vicinity.
12. Duration of observation:
1. brief- single but distinctive call during calm/quiet moment of busy day with chainsaws running frequently nearby.
2. 20 minutes on and off for calls, approx 2 minutes for sight.
3. 1-02-12, approx 5 minutes total spread out over 20 minutes or so for sight, approx on and off for 15-20 minutes for vocalizations. 1-19-12= again, on and off for 15 minutes for vocalizations, but less for sight- approx 1 minute total between two separate observations.
4. 2-07-12= 10-15 minutes on and off for vocalizations.
1. Inner-city/Urban, hilly pine-oak neighborhood near Centenary with many large trees, lots of azalea, Camellia and other large shrubs, also overgrown alleyway and thickets to the n and east.
2. Dense Campsis/assorted vine-covered thicket adjacent long, narrow seasonal pond with widely scattered small trees- surrounded by thick grassy/weedy area with much goldenrod, dewberry, Johnson Grass, others.
3. 1-02-12 and 1-19-12 Fairly large opening within a Large, somewhat hilly sandbar area between the river and the old river channel- with clean soft, sandy substrate. There are smaller patches of younger black and sandbar willows within the opening and larger, more mature, continuous patches of willows around the edges. The sandy ground is now covered with dewberry in places, also asters and various weeds and grasses at others-this also spottily sparse in a few coarser sand areas. There are also a few semi-mature eastern cottonwoods at higher centers. There were formerly much more large sapling cottonwoods, box elder maple, etc, within the immediate area but many were killed in flooding during 2006/07 and are now lying as deadfalls and enormous logjams peppered throughout the area, some extensive and could prove dangerous in traversing.
4. Overgrown parcel/former homesite. Viny, dense "green" thicket- predominately Ligustrum with a few larger hackberries and pecans, also scattered other smaller deciduos trees. Very thick along the edge. Entirely surrounded on all sides (except railroad and hwy 1 to east, which is also quite open/orchard-like) by fallow open agricultural/plowed fields. The strip also continues narrowly to the west
14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation):
1. The call appeared to be emanating from a dense thicket of azaleas- other sparrows present nearby were, in order of abundance, White-throated, Lincoln's, Swamp and Song. I did not have bins or i-pod handy and was busy with work except during the brief, quiet moment near the azalea patch
2. The bird was very furtive in terms of sight, only seen well perched up still for a short period of time in which Jeff Photographed it. The bird appeared by sound to be moving for a good distance back and forth along the pond- approx 75 yards or more- by voice, while we were looking for it. It frequently called in response to playback but often remained silent for periods of time as well. Other sparrows nearby were mostly White-throated, Song, Swamp and Lincoln's.
3. 1-02-12 This bird was also quite furtive but actually easier to see than the previous Yates Tract bird on the first occasion. It rose into a small thick patch of willows and perched up at about 6-8 feet in the sun for my first observation- then began frequently calling after I used playback. It was observed for several minutes there and seen briefly after relocating farther away. 1-19-12 with Jeff, the bird was first heard calling, then observed moving to the southwest with/near a gp of Field Sparrows and American Goldfinches, then observed perched low at close range on a low limb of an eastern cottonwood approx 3' from the ground. It was on the opposite side of the tree from us with the narrow trunk partially hiding the bird for a short time, then quickly relocated to northwest on top of a small stump perched openly, briefly before relocating low and unseen. Other Sparrows present in order of abundance on 1-02-12 were White-throated, Field, Song, Savannah and Swamp, on 1-19-12 the order was Field Sparrow, American Goldfinch, White-throated and Song.
4. 2-07-12 The bird was very furtive and appeared to be silent after playback, then calling a few minutes after playback had been discontinued. It was heard giving a high pitched twittering during playback once. Other sparrows in immediate vicinity were White-throated and Fox. White-crowned Sparrows began approaching thereafter from 100+ feet across an open area from the southeast but only a while after Eastern Screech-Owl tape had being used.
Interestingly, none of the birds found in nw La have been with White-crowned Sparrows- as has often been reported from farther south this season. However, some sparrows in general- especially White-crowned, have been notably low in our area in their usual, more open haunts this season along the Red River valley open agri-areas. Many of these areas that White-crowned generally frequents were extremely hard-hit by the previous drought. Although some counts in 2007 and 2008 were especially high with 650 to 700+ indivs, they have been exceptionally low in these same areas, with 30-40 indivs being an excellent count. Then again, some areas, such as where water has been being pumped since late summer, such as Red River National Wildlife Refuge, Bayou Pierre Unit- Yates tract, have had comparably good nos than before- although again, Green-taileds were not found in close proximity to them during any of my personal observations.
15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total
length/ relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species): The two separate individs that were actually seen were hatch-year birds, as Clyde Massey had first mentioned about the Yates bird. The first obvious thing I noted during the 3 sight records of two separate indivs was the crisp, white distinct "5-way" throat, supraloral and submoustachial pattern on a dark, but quite clean gray face and dark malar, dusky forehead and warm, somewhat palish rufescent crown. They were small, short-tailed towhees, medium-dark-gray below and very much gray in mantle with little to no green there. The tails and wings showed green well but it was notably more obscure there than would be on an adult indiv.
1. 10-30-11. A two-noted low, very nasal, almost unbird-like "mee-ee!" or "meewee"- this rising on second note I had originally decided not to send this date record in due to basis of but a single call. However, three things prompted a change of heart thereafter, No 1- The bird began being reported frequently in areas to the south shortly thereafter. No 2.The call was heard extremely clearly, sounded fairly close-by and winds were calm there at the time 3. No mimicry by other species had been going on at the time.
2. 11-12-11. Indiv was heard giving ascending "mee-ee" calls for the most part. It was also heard giving a rapid, high and thin twittering- "sweetititititit', or "sweeteeteeteeteeteet" much like an indiv call in Stoke's collective .
3. 1-02-12 and 1-19-12. Indiv was heard giving "mee-ee" calls, also a short, rapid trill with abrupt beginning and ending, this without example that I've heard thus far on taped recordings, although it may well exist. The call sounds somewhat like a call given by Spotted Towhee on Stokes except that it is much thinner, less buzzy and more sibilant. I would phoneticize, then write the call as "khweeee!", although it would be hard to place the noted sibilance in doing so-"maybe"squeeee!", but the call does not begin with sibilance/ Place sibilance within the e's. The indiv was heard giving both "meewee" and "khweeee" calls on both dates.
4. 2-07-12- Indiv was heard giving a string of 7 or so slightly separated "meewee" calls, then two other separate calls about a minute apart afterward. It was also heard giving the high-pitched twittering as heard on Stokes.
17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation): White-throated sparrow facial appearance bears a vague reminiscence in pattern but totally different when seen well, as the above observed indivs were, and lacking rufescent crown. The closest call that comes to mind for the "meewee" call is Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, which nearly always descends and not so nasal. The twittering call can be somewhat closely approximated by some other local spp but was distinct when hearing it as well. The short, rapid trill was distinct. Similar call of Spotted in Stoke's collective approximates, but Green-tailed's sounds much less buzzy.
18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): Jeff has sent pics of the Yates tract individual
19. Previous experience with this species: Brief looks at an adult indiv in early April of 2000 a considerable distance northwest of Choke Canyon in Texas. Frequent study of plumage and vocalizations from time to time from before then and afterward
20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):
a. at time of observation:
b. after observation: I mentioned to Jeff while observing the Yates Tract bird that the green of back and tail was quite obscured, the mantle being mostly gray, but had grown a little rusty and did not make the aging connection at the time- and didn't look closely at any field guides immediately afterward. Clyde Massey mentioned shortly thereafter that the bird appeared to be a hatch-year bird by these distinctions. The lock 5 bird was also "washed-out" in appearance in this respect.
21. This description is written from: ___1.__ notes made during the observation (_____notes attached?);_____notes made after the observation (date:_____); __some from___memory.
22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: Yes.- and admittedly, I had been expecting these for a long time!
23. Date:__Sat, Feb 25, 2012________Time:_11:16 p.m.______