Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Great Kiskadee

There has been some discussion about Great Kiskadees on the New York Bird Listserv recently after it was mentioned that a birder from the UK photographed a Great Kiskadee in NYC near the USS Intrepid on August 31st, after Tropical Storm Irene had passed by.  Unfortunately for local birders, the report did not come out for another week and the bird has not been seen since.  Photos of that bird can be seen here: USS Intreped Great Kiskadee

I figured since I've seen and photographed this bird (in El Salvador last June) I'd make a post showing some images and giving my opinion of its probability of being a "wild" bird given the fact that it was found in NYC hanging out.  In the three photos you can see the feathers of a native bird which certainly has not traveled thousands of miles, so a comparison can be made between the "ragged" feathers of the one found in NYC and this bird in El Salvador.

There is also some discussion about the bird in NYC and its proximity to humans and behavior in an urban environment which apparently runs counter to some writings about this bird.  Based on personal experience, Great Kiskadees in El Salvador were commonplace (so much so that after the first day I didn't bother to photograph them again because the excitement wore off quickly).  The photos above were taken at the pool of the Presidential Hotel in San Salvador, which is located on the outskirts of the metropolis adjacent to the mountains.  The bird had plenty of native forested habitat to hangout in but chose to lounge around the pool and outdoor dining areas of the hotel keeping a keen eye out for people eating.

Additionally, while John Askildsen reports that the bird is not good for a captive pet because it requires live food, here is a link to a blog in Costa Rica showing a Great Kiskadee eating a banana.  Also, here are shots of several Great Kiskadees feeding on fruit used as a photography setup in the South of Texas where the birds natural range is: Alan Murphy Great Kiskadee Photos (scroll down a bit to get to the images of the GK).  According to my copy of Birds of Costa Rica, the Great Kiskadee is common throughout Central America and is often found in clearings or gardens.

In my opinion it's entirely likely that the bird hitched a ride from Bermuda where there is an established population - though one would have to wonder why the plumage is so tattered if it was relaxing on a ship for a week.

The book mentioned in this post can be purchased by clicking the image below:

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever known a Kiskadee to attack a human? I have 4 in my back yard and for the past two days cannot go outside because the largest of the group keeps diving down at me. It is scary to think she/he is upset with me and may keep me out of my yard for the upcoming months! Anyone have a suggestion as to why the unusual behavior? My yard has always been the fun place to be as I always feed and water the birds.