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Shan — June 06, 04:57PM

Help identifying a small, very energetic bird

I have seen a small bird, about Ruby-Crowned Kinglet or Bushtit size (I see both of those often), in a pittosporum tree over our waterfall. It's brownish or gray without any obvious colors otherwise, but I can't identify any markings because it moves too fast and sometimes is partly concealed by leaves. It never stops moving--flicking wings & tail, even when sitting in the tree. It dives down and skims the water in the highest pool then zooms back to the tree. I have seen it on 3 different days recently, diving three or four times before it flies away. I haven't observed this behavior before.

Bushtits are always in groups and the Kinglets, though usually single, haven't been seen flying up to higher branches of trees over the waterfall, though one has been seen on very low branches of a ficus tree. They usually disappear into the low growth of Honeysuckle bushes. Also, they don't skim the water like this bird does. They land on a rock and bathe or drink for a few moments.

sofia pierce — June 06, 05:41PM

Could this bird be a Lucy's Warbler? If this does not help, go on for help with your ID info.

Up rated: 0 Down
Shan — June 06, 07:02PM

Thanks for your suggestion Sofia. I don't think this is a Lucy's Warbler because we are out of their range.

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Ian Hearn — June 08, 08:49AM

I don't know your location, but you mentioned about Bushtits and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which would be somewhere on the west coast or in the Southwestern US. You said you're not in the range for Lucy's Warbler, but have you considered Nashville Warbler which might be in your range? These two birds can sometimes look quite similar. Another possibility might be Virginia Warbler.

Up rated: 3 Down
Shan Emanuelli — June 08, 11:14AM

Thanks for the suggestions, Ian. I'm in Nichols Canyon (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, so probably not a Virginia's Warbler. However the behavior description for it on the Cornell Lab site rings true. On other days I had seen it fly-hopping on the ground near the waterfall, again highly energetic and never still. (Moves on the ground and in vegetation layers with short hops, strongly aided by flight. Rarely walks, but may use sideways ambulatory movements to move short distances along branches while foraging. Flight: The primary form of locomotion for this species; fast and direct,...)
There could be a Nashville Warbler migrating through, but they are very yellow and while this bird could have had some pale yellow or olive on it, it was very dull. I do see a number of Warblers at the waterfall, all very colorful.

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