Friday, February 3, 2012

Pyrrhuloxia; San Pedro Riparian Nat. Con. Area, AZ

A pair of Pyrrhuloxias are joined at the San Pedro House feeding station by White-crowned Sparrows and a House Finch, San Pedro Riparian NCA, AZ; 12/20/2011
I never get tired of seeing a Pyrrhuloxia, so when I drove into the parking lot of the San Pedro Riparian NCA's and saw a pair (Above) at the bird feeder in front of the Visitors Center, I was very quick to grab my camera to get some photos.
A male Pyrrhuloxia,  San Pedro Riparian NCA, AZ; 12/20/2011
A female Pyrrhuloxia, San Pedro Riparian NCA, AZ; 12/20/2011
Pyrrhuloxias are cousins to our Northern Cardinals and without close observation could easily be confused as a female Northern Cardinal (Below). Both are the same size at 8.75" long with the same coloring, but the main differences can be be seen in the face. The Pyrrhuloxia's bill is stubbier and yellowish with a very dramatic curve in the culmen (Above); whereas, the Cardinal's bill is orangish-red and extends to more of a point and its culmen is straighter. The female cardinal's face is black while the male Pyrrhuloxia's face is red and the females is brownish/gray as is the rest of its body.  Pyrrhuloxia's have a red ring around its eyes, while the Cardinals' are black.  The male Pyrrhuloxia has a streak of red extending from its throat  all the way to its legs, whereas the female Cardinal has no red on its breast, throat or belly. Finally the Pyrrhuloxia's crest tends to be longer and pointier than its Cardinal cousins, but this not always obvious in the field.
A female Northern cardinal at my backyard feeder, Rockford, IL; 1/31/2010.

A male Pyrrhuloxia,  San Pedro Riparian NCA, AZ; 12/20/2011.
Pyrrhuloxias are common but in a a very specific area which incldes the southeast corner of Arizona, the southern border of New Mexico leading into mexico, and the southwest portion of Texas. They will pretty much stay put in these areas year round, without much migration involved. These birds can be found in a desert brushy habitat, often near a water source.

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