Posts posted by tedsandyman
I would say the wingbars in those photos are slightly tinted buff or orange, not really red, but we have different monitors so it's hard to have an objective baseline. I agree that the grayish tones in the wings in the OP bird are unusual for a male PUFI. However, I don't know if it can categorically be said that a young male bird getting its red (could well be the case for a bird in May) couldn't have off-white wingbars. Younger female-looking males can (example of something approaching that https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/58270651).
Looking at it again, I agree the "tricky" Macaulay bird I linked above should be a HOFI, if nothing else due to the structure (tiny head) and the bill (short in addition to being strongly curved). Face pattern and red in back (though not highly contrasting) was a little interesting. Wing length / projection is also a good point, though looks like they can come pretty close (and PUFI are considered to have short primary projections compared to CAFI... never found that particularly useful).
Looks like I've been out voted! Certainly a tricky bird, though I still would still call it a Purple Finch (could be wrong). However, follow the lead of science and go with the majority opinion if the single dissenting opinion isn't convincing. ?
About the back not having enough red, I agree it's on the low side. However, as you can see in these pictures (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/78551561, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/119954111), some birds can have very little to no clear red on the back or wingbars.
In response to Charlie Spencer, my thoughts on the back (versus a House Finch) was more to do with the exact look (stronger / cleaner contrast with a diffuse red tinge to it, less gray). Hard to describe but it just seemed a little different than most House Finches I see, and closer to a Purple Finch.
Here's a Purple Finch with a similar face to the bird in question (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/58425561), where darker auriculars (which are usually helpful for separating them) aren't present. You can see the white crescent below / in front of the eyes, which I don't think I've ever seen on a House Finch (maybe they can have it--I don't know); also a pretty big honking bill, which I don't see much on HOFI.
You can also see the 'black eyed' look which I seem to usually see on Purple Finches (and often helps separate them from the even trickier Cassin's Finch). On the other hand, House Finches usually have a lighter rim around the eye (e.g. https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/129112861) that makes them a little more "expressive" (to my simian brain anyway).
Again, a tricky bird. For kicks, here's another tricky bird (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/103565701) reported as a PUFI that'd I'd personally just call a finch sp.
(Correction: "lack of gray in the cheeks" should have been "limited gray in the cheeks", as it clearly does have some gray)
Though it doesn't look that much like a classic Purple Finch, something about it doesn't seem like a House Finch and I'm trying to figure out why. I think it's the lack of gray in the cheeks, the darker red cap, "expression" of the face (white curve under the eye (noted in Sibley), proportions of the face (large eye, large bill), dark rim around the eye giving a bit of a beady-eyed look) and that bright red on the back of the head and strong reddish streaking continuing in the back (which I can't recall seeing much in House Finch). I think the culmen might be exaggerated due to the angle. I personally think I'd call it a Purple Finch, but The Bird Nuts has good points too.
Definitely a Rock Wren (a great bird too). Canyon Wrens have nice rufous underparts from the chest to the tail with a contrasting white throat, and they tend to have less of a white eyebrow. They also have a bit more compact shape like a nuthatch (particularly Pygmy or Brown-headed). The best thing that I've learned for finding them (aside from looking around rocky precipices and, in winter, lower slopes with wood piles) is to listen for their call note (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/117326001) as they seem to make it incessantly when they're foraging for bugs / spiders. I think of it as a bit cricket-like...
Or, at other times of the year, definitely listen out for their song, which is totally distinctive and one of my favorite bird noises (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/117321341).
To clarify, Slate-colored / cismontanus actually isn't the best option for the first bird I linked above since it's definitely not a Slate-colored (too much contrast between sides / hood), though the comments were interesting. However, it's good for your bird (and, as another example, this bird https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/77573101). Sorry if this is confusing (better stop before I confuse myself...)
Well, it definitely doesn't look like an Oregon because of the grey sides. Slate-colored's (immature males or females) can be similar to that, but note Cassiar (cismontanus subspeces) or Slate-colored x Oregon are very similar. I personally think it could have some Oregon parents somewhere along the line (in addition to Slate-colored and / or Cassiar) due to the fact the head looks slightly darker than the sides in the first picture. If you're someone who does eBird, there is an option for birds like this (Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored / cismontanus)). Not as satisfying as calling it Slate-colored, admittedly.
Here's an interesting eBird report (in New Mexico) that covers it pretty well, though with a male bird: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S25953895
Another eBird report with a bird that looks closer to yours: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S40914778
I'm relatively certain they're the same bird--it stuck out as a bit unusual (from afar I actually thought it might be a very rare Philadelphia Vireo with that capped look and yellow throat) so I spent 30 minutes trying to get decent photos (those were the best, so, as you can imagine, the rest aren't too great.) It's possible I got bamboozled and there were actually 2 or more warblers (this was during fall migration and the foliage was pretty thick). Here's another shot of what I believed was the same bird, showing heavy streaking and quite yellow undertail coverts (so presumably an OCWA).
I would love to call one of the birds a Tennessee Warbler, as I have yet to see one out west. One field mark I've been relying on (especially on distant birds) is the yellow undertail coverts, and the fact that on many Tennessee Warblers the undertail coverts seem to extend quite close to the end of the tail, but I have yet to see any birds that clearly match that.
About lutescens, they definitely are a bit different from central / east coast subspecies by having a more uniform yellow look (though young birds can look grayer). I know what you mean about the central / east coast birds having a different head color (more gray). They occasionally show up out west (and usually get reported as 'Orange-crowned Warbler (Gray-headed)' on eBird since telling celata from orestera is pretty tricky).
Not sure how often lutescens make it out east... might be interesting to check out.
I agree it probably looks good for a Tennessee (admittedly I don't know everything about this id challenge). For what it's worth, I have spotted quite a few lutescens (west coast) Orange-crowned's (or birds that I id'd as OCWA, maybe incorrectly, though they did have other OCWA traits) with supercilia approaching that (but maybe not quite as bold). Here's some photos of one of those birds (hopefully OP won't mind me posting my own photos here...)
Nice (and interesting) bird. Face looks pretty Tennessee Warbler-like, but the undertail covert looks yellowish in the second photo and the tail a little longer than most Tennesee's (suggestive of an Orange-crowned Warbler).
If it makes you feel any better, these two species could very well one day be combined as one species since they are identical in almost every way except: very subtle differences in the tail feathers, green back on adult male Allen's / red on Rufous (though some Rufous can have green backs), and a barely perceptible difference in the sound of their breeding display. Where they overlap (a small area in Oregon) they likely hybridize a lot (suggesting the birds themselves don't feel they're 'different species'). From Birds of North America:Quote
Reports of Allen's Hummingbirds with up to 40% rufous in back (Patterson Patterson 1988, Patterson 1990, Pyle 1997c) apparently did not eliminate possibility that such birds might actually be hybrid Rufous × Allen's, back-crosses, or even members of a hybrid swarm. This problem is pronounced in the narrow range of overlap between the species' breeding ranges in sw. Oregon, where male Selasphorus seem to have widely varying amounts of green on the upperparts (R. Cooper pers. comm.) and courtship displays that may be intermediate between Allen's and Rufus have been observed (A. McCallum pers. comm.). Hybridization between the two species is likely, given their abutting ranges, and multiple authors have speculated that a significant number of specimens are actually hybrids (Newfield 1982, McKenzie & Robins 1999, Colwell 2005).
Either way, whatever name you put to it, a very cool bird to have in your yard.
Thanks everyone. It did look like a Cooper's in many ways, but I thought I had seen tawny wingbars. Not sure what I might have actually been seeing. The streaking did look pretty fine, but, on the other hand, I have seen some photos that don't seem to have a lot, such as Fig 1 in this https://www.swarovskioptik.com/birding/blog/The_three_plumages_of_the_Northern_Goshawk_by_Dick_Forsman.
Nice about the pointed retrices. That's an interesting field mark I didn't know about. It can be variable / subtle though, if this bird reported is accurate https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/107195571 Based on the field marks mentioned by folks above, it would seem to lean more towards Cooper's, though it has a lot more buff base color and a bolder superciulium. Maybe I'm seeing something wrong.
Hi, wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this bird. It seemed to be about the size of a Red-shouldered, and I think I'd normally just call it a large Cooper's, but when it banked I looked for and thought I saw the lighter yellow / brown bars on the greater coverts (not sure what else could have tricked me into thinking I saw that).
My thoughts on the arguments for Goshawk / Cooper's, respectively (feel free to skip this and just post your own impressions).
Moderately for -
- Fairly large, small-headed, broad-shouldered.
- If I saw it accurately, the "tawny" wingbars.
Slightly for -
- Orangeish tint to eyes.
- Some sort of markings below the tail, possibly the top of the undertail coverts (barely noticeable in the photos).
- Long secondaries ending at tarsus.
- Fairly thick / flared supercilium (in at least a few of the photos).
Possibly for (?)
- Barely noticeable (third photo) white outline below the first two dark tail bands.
- Somewhat tawny colors on the sides.
- Not highly contrasting (or thick) dark bands on the tail.
- Wavy pattern on tail (clear "M")--not sure how useful that is on a folded tail.
- Large feet, apparently thick tarsus (at least at joint of foot). Large Cooper's look like they can have pretty large feet / thick tarsi too though.
Strongly for -
- Much more common.
Slightly for -
- Only moderately thick dark spotting on the front (would be on the low end for a Goshawk).
- Only moderately prominent supercilium; again, on the low end for a Goshawk. (However, looks like Goshawk's sometime don't have much of one: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/92412731)
A final note I should have mentioned is species vs. subspecies are also separated based on how readily the hybrid birds are successful in breeding with one of their parents' species / subspecies (backcrossing). Not sure what the taxonomists do if birds don't interbreed very frequently where they overlap, but the hybrids still successfully backcross...
Thinking about it more, this bird could possibly be an Oregon (OR) with some Pink-sided (PS) parentage, as the sides look quite extensive for an OR (compare with this eBird report https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S33547687).
At risk of laboring a topic that may not be entirely relevant to this site, I'd also like to clarify that I use the term hybrid in the last post in a loose sense (covering crosses of species and subspecies), since that seems to weather changes of taxonomic status better than 'intergrade', though at this time that may be more accurate to describe them. The exact line separating species from subspecies is tenuous (and controversial), and, at least to the bird checklist authorities, largely hinges on frequency of interbreeding where the birds' range overlap. On that basis it's interesting to note that, at least according to the eBird Range Map, that OR juncos (exclusive of PS) and Gray-headed's (GH) range appear to overlap in summer in a few places (for example, around Salt Lake), but only 5 reports of OR x GH have ever been accepted to eBird; comparatively, there are many more (50+) reported PS x GHs.
That somewhat raises the question (in my mind anyway) if OR and GH readily interbreed enough to be considered conspecific, though other factors probably account for the dearth of recorded birds: e.g. the comparative amount that OR & GH's range overlap versus PS & GH's (i.e. more for the latter); the ease with which OR x GH can be distinguished and / or how well-known OR x GH is known among the birder community (in contrast I know that there is at least one published article aimed at birders for identifying PS x GH juncos).
Admittedly I'm an amateur ornithologist so I'm not sure the exact point authorities feel compelled to separate or conflate species, though I imagine some more extensive surveys of hybrid juncos where subspecies overlap in breeding would help clear things up (and / or DNA analysis).
Yeah, that's about it.. The other factor is that it's supposed (on what basis, I'm not sure, though we do have 100 or so years of evidence now) that Cassiar juncos have bred in that area for a long period, so you have many generations of hybrid birds breeding (with presumably some full Oregon or Slate-colored's breeding there), which makes the characteristics of the birds more predictable. In comparison, many "first generation" hybrid birds (for example, ducks or geese) can look wildly different than other birds with the same parentage.
From personal observation, I have seen some juncos that seemed to have the traits of a Slate-colored and Oregon (for example, a clear hood with gray sides), but not falling into what are the "accepted" characteristics of a Cassiar.
I think the topic of juncos hybrids is quite interesting , since they are a very good example (one of the best in North America) of the processes of speciation (how new species are created).
I made that distinction because from what I've read, Cassiar juncos seem most often to be considered birds from an area ("central Yukon south through northern BC and into central Alberta", according to this article) where Slate-colored x Oregon's have hybridized for a long period of time, creating a more distinct stable subspecies; whereas a Slate-colored x Oregon would be a full Oregon hybridizing with a full Slate-colored (which may or may not look the same as a Cassiar). I believe this theory originated with Harry Swarth way back in 1920, when he said they were,Quote
"good subspecies," in the sense that the birds over a certain area ... exhibit a combination of characters distinguishing them from other described forms, and they remain true to these peculiarities within . . . close limits. (Swarth 1922)
Later, notable junco expert Alden H. Miller agreed, sayingQuote
[Cassiar juncos are a] group of hybrid origin [i.e. Slate-colored x Oregon], now stabilized, which occupies a geographic area in the breeding season to the exclusion of other forms. (Miller 1941)
In case you haven't gotten enough about the subject, here's a fairly current (2013) article about Cassiar's (where I got those quotes from).
A tricky bird, as the back streaking is quite strong and would seem to be lean towards a Sagebrush Sparrow; on the other hand the malar thickness and darkness seem to indicate a canescens Bell's Sparrow. I honestly think I would lean more towards a canescens Bell's since the back streaking appears to be a dark brown, even with a somewhat high contrast photo, rather than black, and the malar is really quite solid / thick for a Sagebrush. I would definitely look for more opinions (and, ideally, an expert) if you're wanting to know for sure, though!
akiley, I'm not able to get that link to work (I appreciate the thought though). I was able to find another article on separating them http://www.azfo.org/gallery/EUWI_article_ BirdingVol37No2.pdf
One interesting quote from it:Quote
...to birders familiar with American Wigeon, Eurasian Wigeon can appear to have a surprisingly small head. Also, in relaxed posture, Eurasian Wigeon has a short, steeply rising forehead with a fairly flat crown dropping off sharply at the nape. American Wigeon typically had a higher forehead that reaches a slight peak just before or above the eye. After the peak, the head tapers off smoothly to a fairly rounded nape. This gives American a somewhat puffy, rounded appearance to the head, contrasting with Eurasian’s smaller, angular head.
That fits my impression--I initially didn't think it was a wigeon at all since male and female American Wigeons I've seen usually have had a unique big / puffy-headed look to them.
With that big ol' bill and lack of a lighter crescent near the base of it, I'd call that a Cinnamon Teal.
Definitely appears to be an Oregon. Male Cassiar's typically have grey sides similar to a Slate-colored, but with a clear darker hood. I believe female Cassiar's have marginal dark brown sides (versus extensive, somewhat orange-pink sides like this), and are probably usually best left as "female Slate-colored / Cassiar" since they're pretty hard to distinguish from regular Slate-colored (or, confusingly, Slate-colored x Oregon).
Here's a decent write-up on Cassiar juncos: https://ebird.org/pnw/news/dark-eyed-junco-races-oregon-slate-colored-and-cassiar/
I see what you mean where the back of the head / neck does look a little lighter than the breast in the first photo, though I suspect that's partly due to the back of the neck receiving the most direct sunlight.
I found another bird on eBird (https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S15549541) that seems to be somewhat similar, with a warmer-colored head than most American Wigeons, but not clearly a Eurasian Wigeon.
With those yellowish stripes on the back and head my first impression is Wilson's Snipe. Never spotted them sleeping before
in Help Me Identify a North American Bird
Also, apologies for flooding the forum with probably over-analysis, but I wanted to mention Eastern / Western Purple Finches are a bit different. Checked Sibley and it says "Pacific birds average slightly rounder-winged with shorter primary projection and are longer-tailed with more curved culmen than Eastern (tending toward House Finch in shape)." Not sure if Western / Pacific birds ever make it out East, but Eastern ones certainly do make it out west (females are especially hard to tell apart from Cassin's Finch).