[Tweeters] Intriguing, possibly rare bird in Kent - help please!

Joshua Glant josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 17:53:27 PDT 2015

Hello Tweets,

Yesterday at 2:49 PM, I was riding in a bus to a tennis match in Auburn. When we were passing just north of Kent, I glanced on a wire and saw an intriguing bird. My first giss impression was actually of a scrub jay, but it was too small. The bird was sort of squat but also slender, if that makes sense. I then noted the color of the breast: a very pale gray. And when I saw the long and apparently dark tail, and black in the face, I flashed to Northern Shrike. I only saw the bird for two seconds as I followed it across my line of sight, and then it disappeared behind a bush as the bus rolled ever forward. I immediately sketched the bird and set the paper in my bag for later.

After a very close game in which we lost by two points in the tiebreaker, I got home and immediately looked up Northern Shrike images online. What I saw surprised me: shrikes should normally show LIGHT undertails, not dark! It could have been a lighting issue though.

My glimpse looked almost exactly like this, just that the bird was facing me head-on (this is a Loggerhead Shrike):


The only other bird I can conceive of with a black head, pale gray breast and long dark tail is a Fork-tailed Flycatcher, which of course is almost inconceivable. Ironically, I had just been daydreaming about finding a Swallow-tailed Kite!

So, if it's not a shrike, what else could it be?

Thanks and good birding, Joshua Glant

Mercer Island, WA

Josh.n.glant at gmail.com

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