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Examples of bird photos that can be misleading

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I thought I'd post a reminder that photos are not always reliable for ID'ing a bird. For example, photography can distort color, size, proportion and other characteristics due to lighting, angle, perspective, focal length, etc. Or a photo can over-emphasize momentary posture changes.

Here are two examples:

1) Two photos of an immature Red-eyed Vireo (the same individual), one taken without flash (left), the other with flash (right). This shows how white areas can appear "yellow" in shadow or poor light. One should always use caution when trying to discern whether a throat, chest or belly is truly yellow or just an artifact of poor lighting.

2) Two photos of a Cooper's Hawk in a relaxed state (left) and an alert state (right). In the alert state, the apparently slimmer body, larger eye, and smaller head might lead one to mistake the bird for a Sharp-Shinned Hawk if judging only from this photo (and in the absence of other documented marks/observations).

Feel free to share other examples if you have them.




Edited by syncrasy
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