Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday: Northern Red Bishop

This past fall, I was pulling out of the parking lot at my regular birding spot in Irvine when a brilliant flash of orange caught my eye.  Due to other commitments, I was unable to turn around to see what it might have been and wondered all the way home what I'd missed.

A week later, I discovered that a small flock of unusual birds had made a temporary home at this spot.  Northern Red Bishops (also known as Orange Bishops) are actually from Africa!  However, they are one of a multitude of non-native species that has escaped and taken hold in the Southern California environment.

The males are a brilliant orange/red with black faces and chests.

This small flock hung around for about 2 months on this same grouping of dead branches.

Their brown wings look almost like a sparrow's wings have been grafted on - I always thought they don't match the rest of the bird.

As I watched them over time, it was easy to pick out their dominance games...always trying to be in the "top spot" on the branch.

The orange feathers on the backs of their heads can ruffle up to appear almost like a hood.

This set of photos was taken two weeks later than the ones above...and the birds were still on that same group of branches!

This time, I was able to get a few shots of the females...who really do look like sparrows! 

I had to do some research at home to make sure these weren't just sparrows hanging out with the Bishops.

There's quite a lot of controversy regarding these non-native species (especially those that are nest parasites like the Whydahs) and whether they should be allowed to proliferate.  I'm a little on the fence - would not want to see a native species displaced by these birds, but on the other hand, if there are enough resources for them to co-exist, then maybe it's okay.  We've lost so many species and so much habitat...if something can manage to survive, maybe it's Nature's way of moving a new game piece onto the board.  In any event, I'll be interested to see if this flock returns this fall or if this was a one-time deal.



Nette Cecilia said...

Oh what a colourful bird ,and very lovley photos ,Nette

eileeninmd said...

Hello, the Red Bishop is a beautiful bird. Great photos! Have a happy day and week ahead!

Margaret Adamson said...

A fabulous little bird that I have seen myself in South Africa. great shots of them


If I remember correctly, the 'wild' now was brought on by someone's releasing a caged bird or two and then they multiplied...at least in the Western Part of USA. Who knows how true that story is tho....I know I don't know the truth. But I DO know they're extraordinarily beautiful.

bettyl-NZ said...

Such a long way from home! They are such beautiful creatures. Great captures.

Adam Jones said...

Wow! What wonderfully colourful birds.

Marie C said...

They are just stunning! What a wonderful find (especially as you missed them the first time) and wonderful photos!

Stewart M said...

That's a remarkable looking bird - we have a lot if non-native birds here and there is considerable debate about what we should do with them.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne