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Cannot identify a bird I saw.


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I live in St.Thomas, Ontario and I saw a bird at my feeder this morning that I have never seen before. It was a bit smaller than a Robin but the same shape. It's head and neck were completely black along with it's sides and the top of it's tail. It's breast was orange like a Robin's, it's sides and under it's tail was pure white. The beak was dark and it had a chirping call, along a similar call of a Robin. I cannot find this bird in any of my books. It flew away landing on the ground and was picking through the leaves. If anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate them.....thank you.....

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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

My first thought was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. 

My first thought too, but I like Eastern Towhee better, esp, the 'scratching through leaves' behavior.

@Dave Roper, welcome!  Here are links to Eastern Towhee (more likely) and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (more of a long shot).  If it isn't either one of these, can you tell us how your bird differed from them?

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Towhee/

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rose-breasted_Grosbeak

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4 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

My first thought too, but I like Eastern Towhee better, esp, the 'scratching through leaves' behavior.

I think Rose-breasted Grosbeak fits better for being at a feeder though, and their song is similar to that of an American Robin. I agree that it's probably a long shot, but we'll see what else @Dave Roper has to say.

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Further to my post from yesterday, the bird I saw had a white belly with orange sides. I had it reversed so upon reading the comments, I have , or rather you fine people have come to the conclusion that this bird was an Eastern Towhee. I don't know why it is not in my book of birds. Time to update my library I think. I would like everyone that contributed to my dilemma and am very happy to have joined this web site. I have a large pond on my property that attracts a large variety of birds. A few years ago, I had a Brant show up and by the end of the summer, I was feeding her by hand. I called her Miss Waddles. She was alone without a partner and she would come every year for about ten years and then she was gone. She is the only Brant I have ever seen as they usually do not migrate this far south. Thank you for your time and look forward to this amazing site. Happy birding! 

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11 hours ago, akandula said:

In older field guides, the Eastern and Spotted Towhees were merged into one species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. Maybe you should look for that to make sure it's a match.

@Dave Roper, the Rufous-sided was split back in 1995.  if your guide is before then, you should definitely consider the $20 or so it will cost to replace it.  Besides species names, birds' ranges have also changed in the last 25 years due to development, reforestation, recovery efforts, climate changed, etc.  Your guide may show birds occurring in places they don't any more, or not in places they have moved into.

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On 5/6/2020 at 4:05 PM, Dave Roper said:

 I am very happy to have joined this web site. I have a large pond on my property that attracts a large variety of birds. A few years ago, I had a Brant show up and by the end of the summer, I was feeding her by hand. I called her Miss Waddles. She was alone without a partner and she would come every year for about ten years and then she was gone. She is the only Brant I have ever seen as they usually do not migrate this far south. Thank you for your time and look forward to this amazing site. Happy birding! 

We're happy you joined too. Keep us posted with any interesting things happening around your place or questions you have.  

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