January 8, 2012, Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 800, 1/200th second @ f/5.6, Gitzo tripod
Yes, another rarity. The Rufous-backed Robin is a Mexican species that “spills over” into the U.S. in winter from Texas to California, but primarily in southern Arizona. It is very similar in appearance to the American Robin known to and loved by almost everyone in America.
The Rufous-backed Robin differs from the American Robin by a rusty “saddle” across the wings and back, more prominent streaking on the throat, and by the lack of white crescents by the eye. This head-on view isn’t the best way to see one as it is only gives a hint of the rufous wings, but at least it shows the throat streaking and the lack of eye crescents. The best way to see one is from the side as seen in this old post.
This has been a good winter for Rufous-backed Robin in AZ with multiple birds in multiple locations. This is was discovered about a month ago in the “master planned” community of Anthem on the extreme north edge of the Phoenix metro area. It has been seen most often in or near pyracantha bushes by the railroad station in the community park. When I went to look for it this morning I wasn’t expecting it to be so windy and I was half expecting I wouldn’t see it at all. But it gave me two brief looks during the 90+ minutes I stood around waiting for it and on the second appearance I managed to get this one frame before it headed back to cover.
For a species that few outside of AZ have seen or even know about I feel lucky to have seen them in 13 of the 17 years I’ve lived in Phoenix.