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Everything posted by psweet

  1. There should be contrast between the underside of the tail and the undertail coverts, shadow or not. To get that shade on a gray undertail you'd either have to have a strong yellow reflection or some interesting processing work. The wing coverts have very strong edging -- it's broad enough that you have to look closely to see the olive shading in the center of the feathers. Common Yellowthroat would show olive coverts with almost no edging. They also show distinct contrast between the yellow throat and the brown malar -- I don't see that here.
  2. The first one is indeed a Yellow, although the face is a bit odd-looking. The yellow in the tail is diagnostic -- Mourning has a dark tail that contrasts with the undertail coverts.
  3. Forster's actually have larger bills than Commons, and you'll never see this many Arctic or Least in Michigan. So these are most likely Common. (I suppose Black Tern would also be a possibility, but they're quite distinct looking even in the winter.)
  4. Spotted Sandpiper -- surprisingly distinctive in flight for a small sandpiper.
  5. The first one's an Eared Grebe. The second one is either a Western or a Clark's, but the distance makes this a tough call.
  6. He's still got some juvenile feathers mixed in, but yes, mostly in first-basic plumage.
  7. I don't know that I can say for sure from these, but for future reference -- at that date and location, if it's got a black crown, it should be a Common. If it's got a largely white head with black eye-patches, it should be a Forster's. If it's as big as the Ring-billed Gulls, it should be a Caspian. Anything else would be a big surprise.
  8. I've got the shorebird guide -- it's very narrowly tailored to shorebirds. (That means Sandpipers, Plovers, Stilts, and Avocets, not just anything you see on the shoreline.) It's good, although I'd want something else as well, I think. In general, the two that I would recommend as general bird guides are Sibley Birds, and the National Geographic Guide. Peterson's are good, but I'm not sure what the more recent editions look like.
  9. Not sure about male or female. I doubt that they nest in Borrego Springs, except at a few areas with water, but this time of year they'd be migrating through.
  10. This is a Black-throated Gray Warbler. Looks like the contrast's turned up a bit.
  11. This is a young Red-tailed Hawk. Goshawks are accipiters, which means that the wingtips barely reach the base of the tail.
  12. Merlin's right -- big head, short tail, strong olive flanks.
  13. Not normally -- he could have something stuck there, or it could be a minor abnormality. But Brewer's definitely looks right.
  14. Best guess is a young male, based on the handful of lower back feathers with blue edging and larger dark centers, the blue edges to the uppertail coverts, and the amount of white in the outer rectrices. For future reference, if you want to age and sex dead birds, make sure you spread the wings out and get shots of the upper side (and in a few species, the under side).
  15. A couple of quick suggestions -- first, check the white-balance settings on your camera. There's an awful lot of orange-yellow here, not really typical of the species. Second, if no-one at your school has access to Pyle's Identification Guide to North American Birds, talk to your professors about finding a copy. It's designed to be used by bird banders, but applies equally well to recently dead birds like this.
  16. I think Phainopepla is right. I was avoiding that because I thought that they weren't found anywhere near that far north and the shot's not complete enough to support an ID as a rarity -- a quick look at Sibley's range maps shows that they go farther north in California than I would have guessed.
  17. Looks like a rather light juvenile -- this is a fairly typical plumage pattern at that age. When you see them overhead the wings have a rather distinctive shape.
  18. They're migrating right now, so they can't afford to stick tight to water features.
  19. Clements is a worldwide checklist, so for Europe, Asia, etc. there's no AOS checklist to follow. But this does seem out of character, which is why I'm still confused about it.
  20. This is a Chipping -- the dark lores are wrong for any plumage of Clay-colored.
  21. It's not a Solitaire -- no eye-ring, wrong wing markings. The smudgy undertail coverts would fit a Western Wood-Pewee.
  22. Definitely a weevil -- there's an awful lot of them (50,000 sp worldwide, 2,500 in N. America, just in this family alone!). Looking at the images on Bugguide, I don't think this is actually a Boll Weevil -- I think the head and pronotum shape are wrong, and the eyes seem too large.
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