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von Humboldt

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Posts posted by von Humboldt


    The second picture – a classic view of geese flying directly away from you. Since there is no depth perception you don't know if those six geese are flying in a line or in the V. But there most definitely in formation. Notice how every goose's wings are in the same position i.e. essentially horizontal to the ground and they are equidistant apart. They probably only moved about 100 yards since the first picture and is highly improbable they would have changed positions and be back in line in that short of distance.  So the white goose has one Canada about 3 yards ahead of him to the left and one Canada about 3 yards behind him and to the right in each picture

    first picture – there is what is obviously the lead goose, the two uppermost geese form the "left" side of the V looking from the rear as in the second photograph. The white goose is the first goose on the right side followed by two Canadas (third from the right just like in the second photograph). When you look at the picture looking at each "line" including the lead goose, you see the left line is straight and right line is fairly straight but a little off because the white goose is not creating the same wind current. So in this picture the lead goose will be slightly closer to the camera than the white goose and the two Canadas in the lower right of the photograph will be slightly further away.

    Edit: the first picture looks weird because the white goose is so small. Take him out and you can see the V. But he must be in formation based on the second picture.


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  2. Charlie, when you look at both of those pictures together, you can tell those geese are flying in perfect V formation. 
    So, I don't think the large size difference is an illusion. I don't think the photo shows the goose well enough to rely on anything other than size. Even the snow goose is going to look small flying with Canadas, but that goose looks really small. I surely wouldn't say conclusively it is a Ross's but with the size difference so great, I would give it a strong probability.

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  3. I used to feel like it was a poor term because just the plumage is what you generally see. However, several years ago I talked to a wildlife biologist about it and he said that in extreme cases of a estrogen loss there will be physical changes in the sex organs. In cases like this the bill is a bright orange yellow .  So, I would guess a slight estrogen loss would mean a slightly curved tail feather and extensive loss could end up with a non- fertile male. The reversion to male has something to do with birds X and Y chromosomes. Not sure why but most of these birds seem to be mallards. Cardinals seem to be prone in the passerines.

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  4. After further review, I partially agree with Robin Hood and the questionable goose is probably not a Cackling but an intermediate size lesser Canada. However, I don't think it can be definitively classified as too large to be a Cackling. In the first picture the middle goose does look much smaller, but it is turned at a slight angle to the photographer. In the second picture it is only very slightly shorter from chest to tail (being retired with nothing better to do, I measured). The "right" goose appears to have a longer neck but that may be due to posture. Also, individuals of the same species do vary in size.

    Regardless, interesting photo Jerry and you probably when the Canada Hat Trick Award for a picture of three Canadas and all are different species.

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  5. Left)  Not much angle where the bill and forehead meet in the second picture, long neck, and is just too big compared to the others to be anything but  Canada

    Middle) Small, very sharp angle with stubby bill – Cackling
    Right) kind of small, sharp angle and bill appears short – probably Cackling but could be some other lesser Canada

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  6. The upper right duck is a male (yellow bill). You can see that the tail feather has a very slight upward turn. This means there are mallard genes in its ancestry as a mottled duck's tail feathers should be straight. The gape spot is not a real good identifier for pure mottled as most hybrids have them. A small deformed gape spot is usually an indicator of mallard ancestry but a perfectly formed one does not mean it's pure mottled.

    The female appears to be rather light-colored but that's probably just the sun. There really needs to be a photograph directly from the side so you can clearly see the gape spot and the length of the eyeline . This one appears to have a short eyeline which would indicate pure mottled. The eyeline length is one of the better indicators of a pure mottled as they stop just behind the eye and a mallards almost reaches the dark feathers on the back of nape.

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  7. The two birds in the first picture are definitely mallards. The one on the right with the yellow bill is a male in eclipse plumage or possibly a juvenile.
    The second picture – the three birds in front are mallards as you can clearly see white tails on all of them. I'm unsure of the bird in the back as you cannot see the tale or shape due to the shadows and the bill sure looks solid black. It's probably a female juvenile mallard whose bill is just starting to turn, but I can't eliminate teal. Maybe others can point out something distinctive in that bird to say why it is a mallard.

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  8. Agree they're mallards. They're going through eclipse plumage and that's probably what's making them look odd to you. Definitely males with that bill color. The bills not as bright now as it will be in the winter and especially spring breeding. The one on the left may be a first year duck as his bill does look pretty drab.

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  9. 49 minutes ago, Jerry Friedman said:

    There's also the possibility of letting them live there in future years, since Chimney Swifts are declining because of the loss of nest sites.  I don't know what repairs they might necessitate, though.  See the Conservation section at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Chimney_Swift/lifehistory

    (which notes that Chimney Swifts probably became much more common when Europeans started coming here and making chimneys).

    I let them live in my chimneys since I moved out into the country 30 years ago. Watching a large flock of swifts circle and circle a chimney for 10 – 15 minutes then enter the chimney is one of the great sights in birding. 

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  10. I can't hear your file but those are almost surely just hatched Chimney Swifts. I don't know of any other bird that hangs out in chimneys and this is the time of year for the young to be crying for food. The adults have been in the chimney longer than a couple of weeks but they don't make near as much noise. Go outside and watch the top of the chimney about 30 minutes before sunset until near dark and you should see adult Chimney Swifts entering. 

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  11. Nice gape spot + short eyeline. Very thin white bars on speculum. I agree it's pure mottled duck. The light coloration on the tail is due to wear this time of year and is not a true white like a female mallard would have. Also, in Florida the female can have a bill that is anything from dull olive to indistinguishable from a female mallard.

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