Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology Collections Manager René Corado carefully removed the limb and the nest from Teague Park, which had drawn bird watchers in recent months since the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher/Western Kingbird cross pair -and their nestling - was first spotted in June.

Visitor spots rare bird at Teague Park,
Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology to display nest

September 26, 2014
Santa Paula News

In June a visitor to Teague Park with an eagle eye made a startling discovery: a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, not a bird one would expect to see in California.

Later someone saw the bird fly to a nest and still later the nestling itself was spotted, prompting a visit from Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology officials.

The nest and the branch - threatened by a projected El Nino as well as the condition of the tree itself - were removed and are now being readied for display at the foundation’s Camarillo facility, which will be hosting a rare open house next month. 

According to Linnea S. Hall, Ph.D., the executive director of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, “Somebody just happened to be in the park and saw the bird,” prior to the discovery of the nest that the birds “might have just been building.”

A “Rare Bird Alert” was announced which brought more and more visitors to Teague Park.

“People were coming by to see it and watch it,” and on July 27 while being watched by an observer, Hall said the bird, “Just happened to fly up a tree... and lo and behold there was a nest!”

Initially it was believed the nest represented the first documented nesting of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher/Western Kingbird cross in California, known to hybridize and produce fertile offspring and “An important record for our understanding of bird breeding, hybridization, and distributions,” said Hall.

But upon further study two other documented nesting attempts had occurred in California, albeit “Far south of us in Riverside and Blythe... and this seems to be the only one that seems to be successful,” by producing a youngster.

Hall noted, “As far as we can tell there was just the one... no other eggs had hatched in the nest,” at Teague Park.

The female flycatcher was observed feeding the fledgling in the park for eight days and now, said Hall, “It’s probably on its way to Central America... “

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology contacted the city to ask about the nest and the tree and working with Interim Recreation Director Ed Mount and his assistant Dale Sumersille arrangements were made to remove the tree limb and nest. 

Said Hall, “Because the nest most likely would have been destroyed during the projected El Niño rains this winter, and because much of the branch the nest was on was dead and likely would have broken off, we are thankful to the City of Santa Paula for letting us remove this specimen to further ornithologists’ understanding of nest-construction behavior by this interesting pair of birds.  

“We sincerely hope that both adult birds return to Santa Paula next summer to build another nest!”

For now, Hall said the nest and “most of the branch is being fumigated for mites and other parasites, and will be on display at our museum during our upcoming annual open house... “ 

The 12th Annual Open House at the foundation - AKA Camarillo Bird Museum - will be held Saturday, October 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. where visitors will have the rare opportunity to tour the foundation’s extensive bird, nest, and egg collections.

“A book-signing and exhibits will take place all day and will showcase our own Collections Manager René Corado,” and his new book “El Lustrador”, as well as “beautiful images of our bird materials.”

Demonstrations of hands-on egg blowing and nest building will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and raffles will be held at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. 

Gift items and refreshments will also be available for purchase.

Admission is $3 per person, $5 per family, free for members! 

Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology is located at 439 Calle San Pablo, Camarillo.

“We’re very privileged to work here,” said Hall. “Everyday there’s something we learn,” as do researchers who travel to the foundation from across the nation and all over the world.

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable corporation, is both a natural history collection specializing in eggs and nests of birds from around the world, and a research and education institution dedicated to bird conservation. The Foundation’s collections are among the largest in the world, and its mission is to contribute to the conservation of the world’s wild bird species through the accessibility of the collections and their data to researchers, educators, students, and the public. The WFVZ also contributes to bird conservation through bird education programs for scientific professionals and the public, and field- and collections-based bird conservation research projects and publications.

Researchers have their own hours at the museum and must notify staff 48 hours in advance if they want access to the collections; the WFVZ is not open to the public except by prior appointment.  

For more information visit the website, www.wfvz.org

Dr. Linnea S. Hall, Ph.D., executive director of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, is careful with the tree limb holding the nest of the offspring of the rare Scissor-tailed Flycatcher/Western Kingbird cross pair found in Teague Park; Hall worked with (right) Interim Recreation Director Ed Mount on the removal of the nest and limb which will be studied at the foundation’s museum.





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