Politics, government and public life for Southern California

The presidential race has gone to the birds

Reddish Egret

Chuck Almdale

Obama: The elegantly plumed Reddish Egret, photographed at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, is noted for its dancing maneuvers when searching for food.

Eastern Kingbird

Susan Gilliland

Romney: The Eastern Kingbird has a small colored crown patch of feathers. It sits upright on a perch surveying for prey, then swoops to catch it, returning to the perch.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Jim Kenney

Biden: The yellow-breasted Chat, photographed at Malibu Lagoon, is the largest and noisiest of the American Wood Warbler family.

Merlin falcon

Lillian Johnson

Ryan: The Merlin falcon, photographed at Malibu Lagoon, preys on pigeons.

Chuck Almdale of North Hills has long been part of KPCC's Public Insight Network of sources we turn to with our political questions. He's also a bird enthusiast and a great source on all things avian.

So I asked him: which Southern California birds best portray the presidential candidates and their running mates — and why?

He conferred with fellow birders Ed Stonick and Tom Leskiw and came up with these profiles:

President Barack Obama: The Reddish Egret Egretta — An elegantly plumaged bird, it darts and dashes through the watery shallows when searching for food, rapidly spreading its wings as a canopy over its head. This not only enables it to better see its prey, but small fish are sometimes attracted to the "shade" the wings provide. This fastidious bird pays close attention to the details.

Vice President Joe Biden: Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens — The largest and noisiest of the American Wood Warbler family, the chat is always going on about something-or-other. More often heard than seen, he moves through the underbrush and tree canopies, chattering away endlessly. 

Mitt Romney: Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus — The kingbird group of New World Flycatchers all have a small colored crown — a patch of feathers on the top of their heads. These feathers — usually hidden — are erectable when the bird feels like it, which is either in courting or threat displays. They sit very upright and motionless on a perch until they see a nice juicy insect go flying by, then they capture it and return to their perch.

Paul Ryan: Merlin Falco columbarius — This small falcon used to be called the "Pigeon Hawk," for its skill at swooping — with the blinding sun behind him — down on a plump pigeon. No remorse for the parasitic pigeon, who expects home and food supplied by society and not only gives nothing in return, but poops all over everything.