Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nestlings by the numbers

After my last post, I started reexamining my pics of Acadian flycatcher chicks to see if I could actually identify the fuzzy tufts that I only recently found out have names. I realized that many of them are actually pretty obvious (see below for key), and I also realized that the close-cropped white fuzz of Acadians make them a pretty good study-species for the aspiring fuzz-identifier (fuzzer?). Compare, for example, the wispy, hard-to-differentiate fuzz of baby grasshopper sparrows. And besides being funny-looking (I especially like the "occipital" patch - #2 - for it's jauntiness), these humble fuzz-patches can even tell an evolutionary tale. If I remember correctly, the Acadian is the only Empidonax to have white rather than tan fuzz, one of several things that make it an outsider in its group (nest structure, range, and habitat also come to mind). Connect the numbered tufts to reveal a hidden picture!

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