1-A-2017 Red-flanked Bluetail

STATUS
Accepted
DATE VOTING COMPLETED
1ST ROUND
7-0
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
1
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
John Hanna
OTHER OBSERVERS
Likely seen by over a hundred other individuals between 12-26-2016 and 01-12-2017. This included several birders working on their North American Big Year lists (including Olaf Danielson and Christain Hagenlocher for 2016). The bird was last seen by Vern Turnell around 2:30pm on 01-12-2017.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Hell's Gate State Park, Lewiston, Nez Perce county, Idaho, USA
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Lewiston
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
Here is my original story as posted on inland-nw-birders mailing list.


On Monday, December 26th, 2016 I had a bad head cold and felt achy all over but I decided to go try to get the Lewiston raptor run done anyway. The day started off well with Barn Owl and three Red-Tailed Hawks. However, I got caught up on a small bird though. I was first thinking of a Kinglet or a Warbler, as this bird was bouncing all around. Then I saw a blue-tail! I texted Ben Bright and asked him if he would look for warbler-like birds with a blue tail. Unfortunately, the birds that he came up with and also everything on my iBird App did not seem to match. I did not immediately think Bluebird because of the size and behavior. This bird kept jumping from the ground to the branches and I noticed it once flicking its tail rapidly 5-7 times in quick succession. Unfortunately, I missed several photos by seconds and got a blurry one. I spent the next hour and a half trying to get a photo and then I could not find the bird. I walked to the end of Hells Gate and back and then the bird reappeared and I snapped a quick photo. I was kinda delirious at this point from my head cold and forgetting to bring tissue to blow my nose. I looked quickly at the photo and decided it must be an odd lone Bluebird.


I left Hell's Gate and picked up a few more nice hawks including a Rough-legged Hawk but a mile into Volmer road I encountered large unplowed snowdrifts and was unable to continue. I was able to drive to Mann Lake and found it frozen over. The road to the south was plowed to single lane but looked sketchy for turning around if more snowdrifts were to be encountered. I went north and then hills were pretty icy and I was feeling miserable so I decided to head home and decided I would not be able to get raptor run results for December with the current road conditions.


When I got home I just sat in bed for 4 hours feeling out of it. Then I went back and looked at my last photo of the suspect bird. It did not take too long to look at Bluebird in the Stoke's guide and zero in on a different bird. RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL! I had looked at Red-flanked Bluetail on my iBird Pro App but they only have a drawing of a male so I kept passing it over. The photo of the female in Stoke's looks a lot like the bird I finally got a decent photo of!?!?


Sorry no raptor run data but a good birding day for me even while feeling miserable!


Equipment was 8x42 Vanguard Sprit XF Binoculars and Nikon Coolpix P900 Camera.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, during the observation
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, later the same day
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
Stokes
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Thrushes? White eye ring. Orangish flanks. Distictive blue tail.


Link to photo: https://flic.kr/p/QxNtsu
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Bird was quite active and jumping around quite a bit. At one point made several tail flicks. Bird would be very active and then disappear (to ground or under bank?) for 30-60 min and then reappear.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
When I first saw the bird jumping I was suspecting to see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet but knew at once it was a different kind of bird once I saw the blue tail. Was checking iBird PRO on my phone. Even looked at Red-flanked Bluetail but they only had a photo of the male. Did not clinch the ID until I got home and saw a photo of the adult female bird in the Stokes guide. Perfect match!
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Smaller than Bluebird with smaller bill. Tan to brown back and behavior different than Bluebird.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I had no prior experience with this species.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
My girlfriend thinks I spend too much time birding and thinking about birds in general.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
Photo
SUPPORTING IMAGES

FIRST ROUND VOTING:

Cliff Weisse
Accept

Photo is of a Red-flanked Bluetail.

Shirley Sturts
Accept

Well documented

Dave Trochlell
Accept

There's no question about the veracity of this identification.

Doug Ward
Accept

While this report is more of a nice, exciting story than a clinical filing, there is enough description of plumage and behavior, but more importantly a diagnostic photograph of an adult (?) female Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus)! A great State record.

Jay Carlisle
Accept

Great documentation (& I saw the bird :-)

Darren Clark
Accept

This bird was well documented and seen by many

Charles Swift
Accept

What an awesome find!