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von Humboldt

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  1. Fish crows are slightly smaller and slightly more iridescent. I've never been able to tell the difference in person unless hearing them or standing right next to each other. I doubt this picture can be positively ID'ed
  2. Not looking at the bill, I see nothing in the bird that indicates hybrid. One could argue the cheeks and other parts of the head are a little too buffy and reddish but I believe if this had a normal yellow bill no one would give it a second thought and classify it as an eclipse male or if it had an orange and black bill as a female with estrogen issues. To my knowledge, estrogen deficiencies (intersex) do not cause any alteration in bill color. Every female I have seen with male plumage still has the classic orange bill with black splotch on the top. I don't see anything in the shape or size of the bill that is inconsistent with a Mallard. I wonder if that is actually black on the left side of the bill or just a shadow. It looks a lot like the bill on a female Black duck. I think the bill is more drab than a true gray like a Redhead. So, my guess is eclipse male Mallard with the bill color caused by mutation or very distant Black duck genes.
  3. The goose in the foreground that's grayish with a dark bill is indeed an immature snow goose.
  4. All are mallards. The ones with yellow bills are males in eclipse plumage which may be what has you thinking black duck hybrid.
  5. Thanks for the information. Grebes and other birds (and I believe some sea ducks) do have bill color change in the breeding season. Also, I was aware dabbling ducks bills can be somewhat paler when not in full breeding plumage. I guess with respect to the Gadwall, they are not in my area except mid-November until March and I was not aware the males bill was ever anything but solid black. Thanks for informing me and I will do some research in this area.
  6. While it does not seem wise to argue with Sibley, being a retired attorney I will do so or at least ask for further information. First, once a Gadwall matures his bill is black and will remain so for the rest of his life. (A male gadwall's plumage will be slightly more vibrant in an older duck and their breeding plumage doesn't peek until February whereas other dabblers are generally in full breeding plumage by January 1, but I do not believe this is relevant to the present question.) If anyone can point me to a respected source that says a dabbling duck's bill color changes color after maturity please do so as this would be enlightening information to me. Second, what is meant by "non-breeding adult male?" To me this would be eclipse plumage which would not affect the bill color. I believe that all male dabbling ducks mature in their first year and retain their "colorful" plumage until after breeding season and at least attempt to mate. So, unless those two gadwalls were born this year they must be female. I enjoy learning so I sincerely welcome anyone who can point out any inaccuracies in the above statement.
  7. Any adult male will have a black bill.
  8. Based on the shortness of the bill and appearance of the face, I believe its a juvenile domestic. Sounds like maybe the whole brood dined at that restaurant.
  9. Bill color indicates these are both female even if in eclipse plumage.
  10. I agree with akandula - last photo is Gadwalls
  11. Here's a link to a great article by Tony Leukering. Differences in appearance begins on page 9. https://ebird.org/content/ebird/wp-content/uploads/sites/55/eBird_Muddled_Ducks.pdf
  12. I believe the color (which appears to be rusty) is due to ferrous staining attributable to the water where it's been feeding.
  13. While Fish Crows are a little smaller than American Crows, it is very unlikely you could tell the difference by size unless they were perched right next to each other. You would clearly recognize their call as being different. Crows mate for life and last year's brood helps raise this year's. I found it unusual that you did not see any other crows around the nest helping out, but that could be explained by these being young birds or something happened to last year's brood. I surely don't have the expertise in picture identification that many posters on this board possess, but relying on your statements (especially your recent post) I highly doubt the nesters are crows. I'm the one who first mentioned Golden Eagle as a possibility but at that time I did not realize they were migratory birds. While I would agree that that would make it extremely unlikely they are nesting in central Mississippi, they were definitely not unusual to be seen (at least in fall and winter) along the Pearl River in south central Mississippi in the 1970s. They are HUGE, HUGE, HUGE. Do bald eagles nest before getting their adult plumage? I don't think so but someone correct me if I'm wrong. Bald Eagle nesting in Mississippi is relatively common especially Sardis Lake and the other large reservoirs. I believe you need to contact Nick Winstead or the poster who suggested him to have them observe the bird.
  14. I didn't mean to imply that was a positive ID of Golden Eagle. The nest, site, and silhouette are compatible with the golden eagle. Being from central Mississippi I assume you know the size of a crow and this bird, in your opinion, is much larger than that – huge size is very apparent when seeing an eagle. The only other large black birds in the area are vultures and they nest on the ground. So, I'm assuming the very dark color is caused by the distance and the lighting. I didn't realize they didn't nest in central Mississippi but I know I use to occasionally see them there back in the 60s and 70s at my grandparents farm. If you have seen the bird well enough to eliminate a red tail or other large Hawk, my best guess would be Golden Eagle.
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