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Yesterday, 6/15 at Farragut SP in the Idaho Panhandle (near Coeur d’Alene). Wings look Falcon-shaped to me. I’m confused by the tail barring, seemingly dark outer tail feathers, and what seems to be lack of facial markings, though hard to tell with these crappy photos. Also looked larger than Kestrel or Merlin. Pics have been brightened and sharpened. 

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Edited by Colton V
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I can't tell if there is white barring on the tail or if the white stripe in the first three photos is just a stick that is oriented differently in the 4th and fifth photo. Trying to view these photos on my phone doesn't help but I do get a "Falcon thing" kind of feeling from these images.

Edited by lonestranger
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1 hour ago, chipperatl said:

Doesn't it have to be Merlin with that wide band at end of tail, thin white band, then dark band.  

My thoughts too, as I view the photos on my laptop. I've been getting a Merlin vibe from the wing and tail.

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38 minutes ago, DLecy said:

It's a Kestrel (and most likely a male) with that thick terminal band on the tail.

Isn't there a dark terminal band, thin light band, and then thin dark band?  That is what I see.  I was thinking Prairie ssp. 

 

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23 hours ago, DLecy said:

It's a Kestrel (and most likely a male) with that thick terminal band on the tail.

 

21 hours ago, DLecy said:

Perhaps it’s a MERL with those highly cropped photos. Not sure I would ID it past Falcon sp. given the quality of pics though.

I find it interesting how you sounded so confident, at least to me, with your ID in your first post to even suggest the sex of the bird, but after seeing the cropped and brightened photos with so much more detail you seem to lack the confidence to make the call beyond Falcon sp. 

Perhaps it's how I'm reading it, but you sounded so authoritative in your first post where detail in the photos is questionable, and you come across as challenging the suggestion of Merlin after the cropped images appear to better support that ID. I am curious what makes the bird harder to ID from the cropped photos?

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8 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

 

I find it interesting how you sounded so confident, at least to me, with your ID in your first post to even suggest the sex of the bird, but after seeing the cropped and brightened photos with so much more detail you seem to lack the confidence to make the call beyond Falcon sp. 

Perhaps it's how I'm reading it, but you sounded so authoritative in your first post where detail in the photos is questionable, and you come across as challenging the suggestion of Merlin after the cropped images appear to better support that ID. I am curious what makes the bird harder to ID from the cropped photos?

Well, I'm curious as to why you couldn't have simply asked your question (the very last sentence of your diatribe) and saved the rest for your own mind? 

Attempting to ID photos from very poor photos is fraught with difficulty. There are times when one sees a photo and think immediately of one species, only to be convinced otherwise a time later. The initial photos, looked at on my phone, seemed fine for AMKE. Structure was fine, and the large terminal band to the tail is right (for a male). The cropped photos provided by another contributor show, what appears to be, additional thick bands on the rectrices, which would point away from AMKE and towards MERL. Yet, the photos are very poor and I have been fooled a number of times by the ID of poor photos. Conservatively, I would call it a Falcon sp., although as I said in my second post, perhaps it is in fact, a MERL.

This is a perfect example of what I mean. Myself and many others were fairly confident of the ID of this bird when it was initially posted. A year and a half later the photos were sent around again and shared with a few experts, some who couldn't agree or reach a determination as to the ID of the bird. Through some back and forth conversation, it was finally determined what species this was/is, and the final determination is nowhere remotely close to Sooty Shearwater. 

https://ebird.org/checklist/S79623702

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2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I'm trying to break that habit.  I'm wrong often enough with a full monitor; no point in adding a small-screen handicap. 

Most definitely. Looking at my computer screen is best practice, but I have a toddler and work 10-12 hour days and sometimes much longer if I have an event in the evening. So, I tend to look on my phone more simply due to efficiency rather than preference.

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I think I’m going to call it a Merlin. It’s clearly a falcon by the wing shape and I can’t really see what else it could be besides MERL with those tail bands. Everything besides Kestrel makes the RBA there (though MERL is considered only “uncommon” by ebird) so we’ll see what the reviewer says. 

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On 6/18/2022 at 10:51 AM, DLecy said:

Well, I'm curious as to why you couldn't have simply asked your question (the very last sentence of your diatribe) and saved the rest for your own mind? 

As you pointed out, and I pointed out earlier, the quality of the original photos made the details in the tail very hard to see. On my phone, I couldn't even distinguish the difference between vertical tail bands in some photos and the bird defecating in other photos. So I know full well how fraught with difficulty it is to make an ID from poor photos, which is why I questioned the confidence of your first post.

My "diatribe", as you called it, was included because I thought it might draw attention to the fact that absolute statements can be problematic, especially when combined with poor photos, as your second post shows. Not only can absolute statements about an ID be convincing to those of us that might not know any better, sometimes just because they come from a member respected as one of the site's experts, they might also be viewed as being insulting and/or dismissive to those that do know better. 

I apologize if this comes across as another "forceful and bitter verbal attack". That was/is not my intention. 

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2 hours ago, lonestranger said:

My "diatribe", as you called it, was included because I thought it might draw attention to the fact that absolute statements can be problematic, especially when combined with poor photos, as your second post shows. Not only can absolute statements about an ID be convincing to those of us that might not know any better, sometimes just because they come from a member respected as one of the site's experts, they might also be viewed as being insulting and/or dismissive to those that do know better. 

I apologize if this comes across as another "forceful and bitter verbal attack". That was/is not my intention. 

Thanks for your thoughtful response. To be honest, I have zero issues with my ID’s being questioned, it’s literally part of the fabric, spirit, and purpose of the forum. What felt unnecessary and confusing was all the other things written, aside from the last sentence. I still don’t understand why I was called out like that when all throughout the forum, on a daily basis, people make “absolute” ID’s, have them questioned, and then recant or switch their thinking and ID. I’m human (last time I checked anyway) and will make ID mistakes. This happens to every single birder (novice to expert), both in the field and online. 

Frankly, I labeled your post a “diatribe” because it seemed unnecessarily judgmental and directed. Maybe I misread your post, but my gut reaction was based in this thinking. I hear now that your intent was much different, so thank you for clarifying.

Additionally, sometimes I don’t have time to write up a response as to why an ID is an ID. When that happens, I can see how one would interpret them as “absolute”. Yet, we are dealing with photos, sometimes pretty crummy ones, on the internet, versus seeing a bird in the field, so I would reckon that all ID’s, even ones interpreted as “absolute” should be taken with a grain of salt, big or small. 

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16 hours ago, DLecy said:

I still don’t understand why I was called out like that when all throughout the forum, on a daily basis, people make “absolute” ID’s, have them questioned, and then recant or switch their thinking and ID. 

The reason I used this particular situation to raise my concerns and not one of the many other examples you mentioned, is because I was actively involved in this discussion. I did not actively look for a situation to call out anyone, I was simply involved in a discussion where your posts triggered thoughts that seemed relevant so I tried to express them, admittedly, I could have done that better. It was NOT anything personal, DLecy, you just had the misfortune of setting me up for something to babble about. 

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32 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

The reason I used this particular situation to raise my concerns and not one of the many other examples you mentioned, is because I was actively involved in this discussion. I did not actively look for a situation to call out anyone, I was simply involved in a discussion where your posts triggered thoughts that seemed relevant so I tried to express them, admittedly, I could have done that better. It was NOT anything personal, DLecy, you just had the misfortune of setting me up for something to babble about. 

I'm still funnier than you are.

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