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Everything posted by tedsandyman

  1. Hi, I was curious if anyone had any thoughts of whether this is an American Wigeon or Eurasian Wigeon. They aren't good photos, but perhaps someone with more knowledge sees something I'm missing. I read that contrasting head and breast is an indicator of American, though not sure what to make of it here where the head and breast are the same but contrast with the sides. (Looks like some Eurasian's can have that coloration: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/120869161 , assuming that's id'd right). Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. To me, it seems most like a Traill's (Alder / Willow) based on the structure (fairly thick bill, less "compact" looking than Least). An eyering is present, but not as strong or thick the whole way around like a lot of Least's. In addition to that, I think a Least can probably be eliminated just because it seems a little too buff / tan-colored. Alder Flycatchers are actually more likely than "western" Willow Flycatchers (extimus, adastus, and brewsteri subspecies - from Birds of North America) to have that sort of eyering. Western Willow Flycatchers often completely lack an eyering, which is useful to tell them apart from other western flycatchers. If those subspecies are the expected WIFL's at the location you birded, I would lean towards Alder... definitely best to separate them by call though.
  3. I'm not highly familiar with eastern flycatchers, but it does have a greenish back and small bill, which Least have, but the primary projections do look a bit longer than normal. I know Acadian Flycatchers have quite long primary projections but the bill probably isn't long enough. As far as western flycatchers, I would say the one it looks most like to me is a Hammond's, as they typically have a fairly long primary projection (I've noticed the primary projection is about 1/3 the length of the tail starting from the secondaries... sounds much more confusing than it actually is), and a small bill and short-looking tail. In my experience Dusky (and Gray Flycatcher) are grayer on the back and have much shorter primary projections. The Pacific-slope / Cordilleran (and Yellow-bellied) Flycatchers can be eliminated since there doesn't seem to be any yellow on the throat, and, if I remember right, the grayish individuals are usually seen in Fall.
  4. Not sure--I often buy suet with berries and bugs mixed in, so I wonder if that's an added attraction. Also, in case you are east-coast, I get the Red-shafted (western) flicker (wouldn't think they would behave much differently, but who knows?)
  5. Yep, they definitely show up at suet feeders.
  6. In my yard last Fall-Winter (most days over a 3-4 month period), I was lucky enough to have some Pink-sided Junco's (I think I was at around 6 distinct individuals) mixed in with the usual winter flock of Oregon Junco's (also a few Gray-headed's and one very unusual bird that was likely a Gray-headed x Oregon). After a while, I noticed like you mentioned that they were slightly larger than Oregon's, but initially it was quite difficult to separate female HY Oregon Junco's, which can have a light gray hood, dark loral area, and extensive color on the side (more often tending towards an orange wash than solid gray-pink like a Pink-sided). I also noticed subtle differences in the social dynamics--the female HY Oregon's usually seemed to be on the lowest "pecking order" (getting chased from food). On the other hand, while the Pink-sided's were still often chased by male Oregon's (perhaps first suspecting they were young Oregon's?), they usually held their ground and were able to eat in the center of the feeding area. My semi-informed gut reaction is that the Gray-headed group maybe should be considered a separate species, and like you said, Pink-sided is very likely distinct from the other Oregon's. I've noticed in other cases that immature plumages of one distinct species looks like immature of another (or, like the example above, an adult might look superficially similar to the young of another species). Maybe there's a subtle advantage in case the two species flock together (perhaps there's a term for this).
  7. Good question--yes, I did... The reviewer for my county warned that some Brewer's have brown and can be tricky, and that the timing was early, so it would need to be very well documented, but he was also interested in hearing other opinions. I haven't shared the last photo with him, so that would be interesting to check his thoughts on it. I also sent the first 5 photos to an experienced birder and he found the reported Brewer's that looked similar (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114856441). He said in his opinion he felt it wasn't one but didn't mention details (aside from that Brewer's and also, again, the admittedly strong argument that it would be the earliest report of one in the region). I think I will pursue some other avenues, but if anyone experienced with Rusty's has thoughts, it's certainly welcome.
  8. Actually, one more "last" shot for anyone interested--a screen capture of a video I took of the bird. It seems to show a bit of a hooked overbite (somewhat apparent in the first photo), as well as shorter outer rectrices, both seemingly characteristics typical of Rusty Blackbird. I also found an interesting discussion (http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/ID_FRONTIERS?page=4&count=50&year=2011) with some details about distinguishing the species.
  9. Thanks IvoryBillHope. Yes it's in California and a little early so a Rusty Blackbird would be quite rare. I admit I withheld the location from the first post because I was curious what some thoughts would be without taking location into account. I wasn't necessarily looking for / wanting a Rusty (though it'd be nice), but I can't find anything definite written in descriptions or showing in guides / photos to convince me that it's a Brewer's aside from this report (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114856441), location, and lack of clear rusty edging on the wings. On the other hand there's this report (https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/72874341) with a bird that looks very similar to the last two photos (and all the various rather vague descriptions about boldness of supercilium and color). Maybe will just have to leave it at "Rusty / Brewer's" in my mind...
  10. Haha, yeah, one "extreme" to the other. I do like "snowbirds" though--that's what Audubon called them, after all. Not quite so fond of say, "mudhen" (American Coot).
  11. (Note, that was supposed to be cismontanus not cistomanus. Not sure I like this 2 minute (?) window to edit...)
  12. In fairness to calling them "Oregon juncos", according to Birds of North America it says "[e]xcept for J. h. mearnsi and J. h. townsendi, [the races of Oregon are] rather weakly differentiated within group." I think when people say Oregon they refer to these 6 that look very similar (I understand your peeve though). Based on reading the BNA section on Systematics, I think maybe it's not unlikely in the future that some of these subspecies will be shifted or conflated when more research is done. I think also when folks refer to "Slate-colored" they refer to hyemalis hyemalis and carolinensis, and cistomanus is usually treated separately (often called the "Cassiar junco"). Interesting enough (to some people, anyway), I've heard a Slate-colored x Oregon isn't necessarily the same thing as a Cassiar junco (from what I understand the distinction is that Cassiar's are birds presumed from a "zone" with long widespread hybridization, showing certain characteristics, whereas a Slate-colored x Oregon would be the immediate parents are clearly one of those various ssp... As you can imagine, it's probably not the easiest thing to make that distinction!)
  13. My first thoughts are 1. Rufous / Allen's Hummingbird 2. Immature male Black-chinned Hummingbird 3. Female Black-chinned Rufous & Allen's Hummingbirds are quite difficult to separate, particularly ones that aren't adult males with orange / golden gorgets.
  14. Another photo (my last). Who knew blackbirds could give me Empidonax-like headaches?
  15. Here's another of the bird I saw in different lighting: Perhaps a slight brownish edging to the upper wings?
  16. egosnell2002, thank you for the response. Actually I looked for that rusty edging on the wings and couldn't see it, knowing that would definitely mean it was a Rusty. From what I can tell, lack of rusty edging on the wings doesn't mean it's a Brewer's though. It appears when male Rusty's are changing in the fall they may have some brown on the head but lack the edging, such as in this photo: (some more examples, assuming they are correctly ID'd: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/80138471, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/72874341) I thought the habitat (swampy ponds) and behavior (flipping leaves) was also in favor of a Rusty. However, the location is California, where it's rare, a few weeks before Rusty's have been reported, albeit also at a higher elevation than usual (I theorized if they were to show up early, it might be up here). It's very difficult finding examples of immature male Brewer's Blackbirds, but one that was reported as a Brewer's that looks similar was this bird, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114856441 According to an article with information on how to distinguish the two, it says "Brewer's Blackbirds have a brownish cast to their plumage, and some show a superciliary line, but they never have the rich rusty-brown and buff colors of the Rusty Blackbird. Instead, the brown tends toward gray, and the superciliary line is never as bold". It would appear if indeed my bird and the last one linked are Brewer's then that sort of plumage with a bold supercilium is very unusual.
  17. (Though counting backwards from 10 wouldn't be useful unless you knew all the primaries were different lengths / exposed...)
  18. Yeah, that's a little discouraging. Good thing trying to ID birds is a pretty enjoyable preoccupation anyway (most of the time!) One interesting thing from the article I linked was the explanation of wing morphology to separate the Yellow-bellied & Western flycatchers. That said, I'm not entirely sure if I understand how to tell if the last wing tips shown in my photos above are p8-7, with a slight space, or if p8 is hidden 'stacked' under p7. It seems particularly hard to know as it sounds like p9 (and p10?) are shorter than the rest and entirely hidden, so it's not possible to "count backwards".
  19. I was thinking either a very bright immature male Brewer's or a Rusty recently changing from breeding plumage. Didn't notice rusty edges to primaries. I'd appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!
  20. It was seen in California, so Yellow-bellied would be very rare. I have seen quite a few Pacific-slope Flycatchers, but this one 'felt' different and made me interested enough to take a lot of pictures, so maybe that is worth something. I found a great reference for telling the two apart, but I still don't feel fully convinced one way or another. https://www.birdpop.org/docs/pubs/Heindel_and_Pyle_1999_Identifcation_of_YBFL_and_WEFL.pdf
  21. Another example is https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/71786971 I can't see a huge difference between that and the second shot above (though admittedly my eye sight isn't the best). I would think a lot of dark would generally rule out a Western though...
  22. That's a good point, but I don't think a small amount of dark on the secondary edging always rules out Yellow-bellied. For example, this picture https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/101590971 (assuming it does represent a Yellow-bellied since it's on the Birds of NA site) shows a similar small amount of black on the secondaries.
  23. I will withhold my own thoughts (and location of the bird) just to see what other people come up with. Thanks!
  24. Looking at it again, I feel it might an immature male Black-chinned. In the first picture the dark on the face at the bottom looks like it be the gorget coming in. That would also explain why it's only on one side of the face. The dark ear patch is also mostly connected with the back of the neck / head, which is good for a Black-chinned. The bill's curve / length is also still probably within the range of a 'pure' Black-chinned. I'm sure there's someone on here who can give you a more knowledgable answer though. (Thanks for nothing, eh?)
  25. Tricky with that lighting so maybe not possible to be very certain, but the proportions (and short primary projection) makes me think a Least Flycatcher. The eye-ring appears pretty thin for one but maybe that's worn plumage (or lighting).
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