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Flycatcher or bluebird?

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Old Sunday 12th February 2012, 03:03   #1
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Flycatcher or bluebird?

Looking for help IDing this bird I saw today while running with a friend, up on Westridge in the Santa Monica mountains. It flew up into a bare tree and perched for a moment, then flew away. I thought its flight resembled a flycatcher, and its bill and general build was consistent with that . . . but its coloration didn't match any flycatcher I know of.

While I didn't get a very good look, it being high up in a tree with bright sun background, I could distinguish these features:
- thin straight bill, not too long, like other tyrant flycatchers (we have lots of black phoebes in our yards)
- chestnut upper chest area
- back & shoulders bluish-grey, not uniform but mixed blue & grey, can't remember exact pattern, but no bright blue.

I couldn't find anything like it in my Peterson's Western Birds field guide, but looking in my Sibley's I found the Mountain and Western Bluebirds having coloration about like that of this bird. Sibley's had lots more flycatchers than my Peterson's, but none with coloration anything like this bird.

So, what do you all think? I've only seen a very few bluebirds, mostly up in the Sierras, and am not familiar with their flight style.

Just curious; appreciate any feedback.

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Old Sunday 12th February 2012, 05:01   #2
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With that kind of color pattern it was most likely a Bluebird (Western).

- Wim
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Old Sunday 12th February 2012, 05:14   #3
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I've had the pleasure of watching two mountain bluebirds recently, and they did remind me of a flycatcher in some ways. Notably, leaving a perch for food (in a field below power lines in this case) and returning somewhat quickly to the same spot. I wouldn't say they were exact in their habits, but they definitely show some similarities.
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Old Sunday 12th February 2012, 05:15   #4
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Hi Bob. Back lit into dark silhouette,can imagine visual might be tough
Specifically, how do you feel about behavioral manner of bird?
Flycatchers-tied to one spot by a rubberband...back/forth,up/down returning to same spot.
Thrush's- ground forage,maybe gleen bottoms of leaves.Huge amount time on ground hopping about.Although will perch and spy out prey below,still predominatly ground feeders.Have seen easterns take insect on the wing though.
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Old Sunday 12th February 2012, 12:43   #5
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This bird would dive to the ground and come back up to the same spot:

Most of the time it sat about 3 to 5 feet off the ground.

Last edited by Fred Urie : Sunday 12th February 2012 at 12:51.
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Old Tuesday 21st February 2012, 03:10   #6
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I didn't have much time to watch it, as it flew away after perching in the tree for a few seconds. As I said, its wingbeat resembled that of a flycatcher, but it did not swoop down then return to a perch like flycatchers do. Also, this was up on a ridge in the Santa Monica mountains, chaparral country, not typical flycatcher environment.

Fred Urie, it was not the bird in that link.

I'm going with Western Bluebird. Hoping to see it again.
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