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.