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Unusual bird on the ground out back this evening. USA, Middle Tennessee. Suburban backyard. Similar size to robins (also present), seemed a bit rounder. All back/dark grey, except for light grey spectacles that wrap around front like a vireo or an exaggerated robin. Beak was dark as well. Feathers not glossy at all. Stayed low to ground and seemed squatter than the robins—wings and tail feathers also appeared shorter, but angles could play in to that.

Walked slowly around the corner of the yard, ate small flower heads and something else I couldn’t see but maybe worms. Wasn’t visibly injured, but seemed to work extra just to fly onto the fence. 

I can’t figure out what I was looking at. Best guess it’s a melanistic example of something, but not sure what. Any guesses? (No photo, had just stepped out and didn’t have a camera, but did see it for a good minute before it flew).

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22 hours ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Welcome to Whatbird!

Did it walk or hop?  A pigeon (black racing?) perhaps?


11 hours ago, Kevin said:

I was thinking maybe just a dark Rock Pigeon. 

@Backyardbrad Do you know what color the feet where? 

Thanks to you both! The grass was tall enough that I didn’t get a good glimpse of its feet. It was moving very slowly and seemed more walking than hopping. 

Looking at pictures of dark pigeons, this seems to be pretty close. I’ve actually never seen a rock pigeon of any sort in our yard (in the area though of course) but many mourning doves, so I wonder if that might be a possibility.

I am keeping a close eye out if it makes another appearance.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/30/2022 at 6:48 PM, chipperatl said:

Swainson’s Thrush or Gray-cheeked Thrush.

This is a perfect reply, thanks. It got me looking at pictures of birds in shadows and this old post in particular https://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/05/color-illusion-and-thrush-identification/ 

I assumed that was an illusion in photos that our eyes would correct for in person, until I saw the same thing yesterday evening. I *knew* the colors I should be seeing, but my eyes were still fooled. I couldn’t think my way into seeing the “right” colors. Incredible.

Am now reasonably confident what I have seen are juvenile robins, with the same effect from the shadow as the thrushes in the above post. Still didn’t manage a pic, but robins in the sun nearby gave sufficient comparison to realize they were the same birds. (But I feeling off my confidence now, so am very open to changing my mind again on this one.)

Thanks for the response and for basically blowing my mind by sending me down this trail.

Edited by Backyardbrad
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