Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yucatan Jay found in Texas!

Well, I just got back from Minneapolis, and one of the more interesting things that I missed in the last few days is the appearance of a Yucatan Jay in the LRGV (Lower Rio Grande Valley), specifically at Joel Ruiz' White-collared Seedeater Sanctuary at San Ygnacio.

I am sure there will be a lot of discussion about this bird, and the assumption by some is that it is an escaped cage bird. Of course, Joel (as you would expect) believes that it is a wild bird, and considering that site's history of being a magnet for vagrants (I was lucky enough to see the Roadside Hawk there last year), and the fact that there were some extreme weather conditions in the Yucatan in the last half of 2005, who can really tell where this bird came from?

One thing for sure is that the TRBC will be (understandably) very careful when evaluating this bird, and that puts birders in a tough spot: we won't know whether this jay is countable for some time, so if you rush down there to see it you risk wasting your time on an untickable bird; on the other hand, this bird may not stick around forever, and if Yucatan Jay is eventually accepted by the TRBC, birders that take a "wait-and-see" attitude may find the bird gone by the time a consensus is reached on its origin.

I remember spending a fair amount of time searching for this species in August 2004 on a short trip to the Yucatan and it is a sharp bird. I have no idea whether it is prone to irruptions or long-distance movements like some other jays are.

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