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Unusual (immature?) rose-breasted (?) Grosbeak


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I am in mid-Vermont. This bird came to my feeder-it appears to be grosbeak in size, though not absolutely sure. Legs are yellowish, though, and it has some peculiar white markings. A few people think it is a black-headed Grosbeak, but they are not seen here (yet).  I only have one photo. Hoping to see again. 1533031615_rose-breasted.grosbeak_DSC5355copy.thumb.jpg.c5b0f025b89f69b032f773e8bf45a55d.jpg

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Here’s what I’m thinking, though it’s not really based on hard fact, just pure speculation: Whatever it is, it’s got pigment abnormalities. I was considering a RB Grosbeak with pigment problems, but the bill doesn’t quite seem heavy enough for that, and the tail seems a bit too long and I would expect even a malpigmented(?) grosbeak to have some distinct pattern to the tail. I’ve really been looking at the bill structure and it seems wrong for House Finch. I would expect a HOFI to show more curvature to the bill. The culmen (top edge of the bill) seems fairly straight to me which would point to Purple Finch. Furthermore, the bits of red are present where they would not be on a House Finch (talking about the wings/back) and seem to be the raspberry hue characteristic of Purple. Purple finches seem to prefer heavily wooded areas, at least in my west coast experience. As for the size issue, I am constantly surprised by how big regular birds appear when they visit my feeder simply because they are closer to me than I am used to. 
 

All this to say, I think it’s a Purple Finch with crazy pigmentation abnormalities. 

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45 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Welcome to Whatbird!

Do you happen to have something near the feeder that is red?  I'd like to rule out a reflection or staining.  It appears to be leucistic which doesn't help!  Any more photos?

Thank you.

There is nothing red near or on the feeder. The photo was taken through a window, but the camera was a Nikon D850 with a 300mm f/4 lens. There were no reflections in the window-the lights were off in the room. 

I agree it appears to be leucistic.  

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49 minutes ago, Colton V said:

Here’s what I’m thinking, though it’s not really based on hard fact, just pure speculation: Whatever it is, it’s got pigment abnormalities. I was considering a RB Grosbeak with pigment problems, but the bill doesn’t quite seem heavy enough for that, and the tail seems a bit too long and I would expect even a malpigmented(?) grosbeak to have some distinct pattern to the tail. I’ve really been looking at the bill structure and it seems wrong for House Finch. I would expect a HOFI to show more curvature to the bill. The culmen (top edge of the bill) seems fairly straight to me which would point to Purple Finch. Furthermore, the bits of red are present where they would not be on a House Finch (talking about the wings/back) and seem to be the raspberry hue characteristic of Purple. Purple finches seem to prefer heavily wooded areas, at least in my west coast experience. As for the size issue, I am constantly surprised by how big regular birds appear when they visit my feeder simply because they are closer to me than I am used to. 
 

All this to say, I think it’s a Purple Finch with crazy pigmentation abnormalities. 

Yeah, it has to be.  I agree that the bill and body shape is not right for a House Finch.  A RBGR wouldn't have the raspberry color nor would it have the orangey legs.  That leaves leucistic immature male Purple Finch.

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32 minutes ago, Colton V said:

Here’s what I’m thinking, though it’s not really based on hard fact, just pure speculation: Whatever it is, it’s got pigment abnormalities. I was considering a RB Grosbeak with pigment problems, but the bill doesn’t quite seem heavy enough for that, and the tail seems a bit too long and I would expect even a malpigmented(?) grosbeak to have some distinct pattern to the tail. I’ve really been looking at the bill structure and it seems wrong for House Finch. I would expect a HOFI to show more curvature to the bill. The culmen (top edge of the bill) seems fairly straight to me which would point to Purple Finch. Furthermore, the bits of red are present where they would not be on a House Finch (talking about the wings/back) and seem to be the raspberry hue characteristic of Purple. Purple finches seem to prefer heavily wooded areas, at least in my west coast experience. As for the size issue, I am constantly surprised by how big regular birds appear when they visit my feeder simply because they are closer to me than I am used to. 
 

All this to say, I think it’s a Purple Finch with crazy pigmentation abnormalities. 

Thanks for that extensive evaluation.

The tail is out of focus and angled away, so I'd say it's hard to determine color or length.  I am very familiar with this feeder-it is less than a foot from my window. So I have a fair idea of size, but as you say, it can be deceptive. It's unfortunate that the sunflower seed covers part of the bill. You have some good arguments for Purple finch, but I'm not convinced yet. Rose-breasteds are frequenting this feeder right now, feeding their young, so I see quite a few similarities in size, dark culmen, and to my eye, a heavier beak.   Also the few white feathers on their backs. Feet, however, are generally darker. I DO think this bird is leucistic., as do most  people here.

People in Vermont have also suggested black-headed grosbeak and blue grosbeak !  We may never know for sure-no sightings today....

 

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Oh good, I’m glad you posted it here @birdphotog! Welcome to Whatbird!

1 hour ago, Colton V said:

Here’s what I’m thinking, though it’s not really based on hard fact, just pure speculation: Whatever it is, it’s got pigment abnormalities. I was considering a RB Grosbeak with pigment problems, but the bill doesn’t quite seem heavy enough for that, and the tail seems a bit too long and I would expect even a malpigmented(?) grosbeak to have some distinct pattern to the tail. I’ve really been looking at the bill structure and it seems wrong for House Finch. I would expect a HOFI to show more curvature to the bill. The culmen (top edge of the bill) seems fairly straight to me which would point to Purple Finch. Furthermore, the bits of red are present where they would not be on a House Finch (talking about the wings/back) and seem to be the raspberry hue characteristic of Purple. Purple finches seem to prefer heavily wooded areas, at least in my west coast experience. As for the size issue, I am constantly surprised by how big regular birds appear when they visit my feeder simply because they are closer to me than I am used to. 
 

All this to say, I think it’s a Purple Finch with crazy pigmentation abnormalities. 

I basically said all the same things, including the bit about the culmen in my response where this ID was initially posted. My conclusion was molting leucistic PUFI. 

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It’s definitely a Haemorhous finch sp., and not a grosbeak of any sorts. Perhaps a SY male PUFI. I do think there is leucism at play here though. That white on the head, nape and coverts is not normal.

Edited by DLecy
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2 hours ago, DLecy said:

It’s definitely a Haemorhous finch sp., and not a grosbeak of any sorts. Perhaps a SY male PUFI. I do think there is leucism at play here though. That white on the head, nape and coverts is not normal.

Agreed 100%. 

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