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black-headed grosbeak?


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I'm often double checking those female grosbeaks... this one was at the feeder, up close... and almost no streaking... I got a bunch of pictures, thankfully... and, I'm leaning even more towards black-headed now... The under side of the wings is YELLOW...

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From the head on direction I couldn't even see any streaking... Apparently I didn't get any pictures at that angle but got good looks in the binoculars.

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I'd call that Rose-breasted for a few reasons. The streaking is a bit more pronounced than it should be on a Black-headed Grosbeak and the chest looks fairly white vs an orangish. The supercilium is very white, more so than on a Black-headed Grosbeak. However, the main factor pointing at a Rose-breasted Grosbeak is that the upper mandible is PINK. Black-headed Grosbeaks almost always have a dark gray upper mandible, whereas the upper mandible on this bird is pink, like a Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. In addition, the underwing color is not that useful in identifying female grosbeaks, they both have yellow underwing coverts. 

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9 minutes ago, Aidan B said:

I'd call that Rose-breasted for a few reasons. The streaking is a bit more pronounced than it should be on a Black-headed Grosbeak and the chest looks fairly white vs an orangish. The supercilium is very white, more so than on a Black-headed Grosbeak. However, the main factor pointing at a Rose-breasted Grosbeak is that the upper mandible is PINK. Black-headed Grosbeaks almost always have a dark gray upper mandible, whereas the upper mandible on this bird is pink, like a Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. In addition, the underwing color is not that useful in identifying female grosbeaks, they both have yellow underwing coverts. 

Agreed, definitely a Rose-breasted for me as well. Would really stand out from any female Black-headeds around here. 

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1 hour ago, Aidan B said:

In addition, the underwing color is not that useful in identifying female grosbeaks, they both have yellow underwing coverts. 

Really? Sibley's East, their newest one, shows a very distinct difference in the underwing color even in females.
And... bummer.
I was already depressed today... the idea of a new life bird didn 't perk me up a whole lot but the let down here now is bigger than it normally would be.
Depression and anxiety and birding can really be a pain.  😕 

 

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1 hour ago, Aidan B said:

The streaking is a bit more pronounced than it should be on a Black-headed Grosbeak and the chest looks fairly white vs an orangish. The supercilium is very white, more so than on a Black-headed Grosbeak.

I would like to argue that these may not be the best things to go by either.
The bird, from the front, was more orangish than can be seen in my photos...  and I saw no streaking at all on the front... this bird is less streaky than some black-headed grosbeak pictures I've seen.

The bill... I will have to study that but it sounds like it could be useful... though, I have not seen that mentioned in the field guides...

Side note. I HATE when birds are this similar...  it's just not nice.  :0

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The Sibley illustrations of Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are wrong. It’s a poorly edited book. Don’t pay the guide books heed, Aidan and Connor are correct, and David Allen Sibley is a schmuck. This is bird is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

The best way to avoid this sort of birding-related anxiety is to just err on the side of caution, and only identify things you are certain about. I think you absolutely did the right thing coming here to ask about the ID, instead of just posting it on eBird immediately! Also be sure to use as many field marks as possible, bill color and flank/breast streaking and coloration are important ones to use when identifying female Grosbeaks.

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Wow, strong words about Sibley... ha...  I find it interesting... and not in a bad judgey way.
I will say, I feel every field guide has drawbacks... they say the drawings are better than pictures for various reasons but, they also have their limitations.

Even using other sources, the images for black-headed have birds with more streaking than the one I had. And you can't really see from these side views how unstreaked the front of the chest appeared. I really thought it had more color than this as well. I was sitting in my room and saw it, looked at it through the binoculars... then ran to the living room with the binoculars and camera to get these shots.
And the coloration seems to vary a lot as well in the images I've looked at even online.
For now I will definitely always be asking for second opinions on these. And I will pay more attention to the bill in the future. That one seems fairly consistent with all the images I've looked at. Even Sibley's shows a difference, they just don't mention it.

This is how I learn. I can't, for whatever reason, just sit and study a guide and remember everything. I have to see and discuss the birds to get some of those details to stick...  🙂
It does not help at all that some of them are just tricky for a lot of people.

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21 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

The Sibley illustrations of Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are wrong. It’s a poorly edited book. Don’t pay the guide books heed, Aidan and Connor are correct, and David Allen Sibley is a schmuck. This is bird is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

The best way to avoid this sort of birding-related anxiety is to just err on the side of caution, and only identify things you are certain about. I think you absolutely did the right thing coming here to ask about the ID, instead of just posting it on eBird immediately! Also be sure to use as many field marks as possible, bill color and flank/breast streaking and coloration are important ones to use when identifying female Grosbeaks.

Oh come on, Sibley isn't that bad. It's true that his drawings are not a replacement from experience or the real bird, but they still help to point out the more obvious differences. Despite some of its limitations, I still consider Sibley to be the best bird guide for North American birds.

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