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Looks like a large Tufted Titmouse


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NYC, 10/28/22

This bird looked like the size of a Blue Jay.   I've seen Titmice here, but they were much smaller.  Is this a variant?  (The pictures are frame shots, taken within the camcorder.  As soon as the bird noticed me, it took off, so I didn't have time to get a good look, let alone a good shot.)

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6 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

It's a Tufted Titmouse, and judging by the size of the blades of grass compared to it, it looks like a normal size.

The grass was still VERY high when I saw the bird.  It was near the edge of the grass at this point; most of the time it was visible only from its back up.  Even White Throated and Song Sparrows look half "buried" in the grass.  (It was cut later in the day.)

 

 

 

Edited by KJS-LES
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16 hours ago, KJS-LES said:

Okay.  No Blue Jay right next to it.  Thanks.

I understand your frustration; but we've all been through it - our eyes can really fool us, ESPECIALLY when looking through binoculars or camera. My lesson was taught by my first Blue-and-White Mockingbird; after spotting it across a ravine through my binocuars, I searched for a long time through my guides for a jay with those color patterns and found nothing. Finally I got a look at the bird up close, a couple of yards away, and saw that it was much smaller than I had thought. I had my ID shortly afterwards. 

Also, using the grass as a reference, we need to consider the width of the blades as well as the height. If it was tall enough to hide a jay I'd expect the blades to be wider. Little birds don't weigh much, so they can find a lot of things to stand on among the grass and raise themselves up a little higher.

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8 hours ago, aveschapinas said:

It's not that they stop looking huge sometimes; you just stop trusting your perception of their size.

Yesterday we were looking at Hermit Thrush when a brown-backed, shortish-tailed, medium-billed songbird landed three feet above it.  Same distance of about 25 feet to both birds, same lighting, unobscured view of both.  The second bird appeared to be about two-thirds the size of the thrush.  We'd heard Winter Wren in the area; was this it? 

Nope.  The twig stopped bouncing from the landing, and the bird turned around and showed its rufous tail.  The second Hermit wasn't as fluffed as the first one.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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I always think that the treeline by my house is closer than it actually is. One time I saw what I thought was a red-tailed hawk perched on one of the branches with its feathers puffed up from the cold, but when I went and got my binoculars it was just a fat mourning dove. But I will say, I got a second opinion before I got my binoculars, and the consensus was that the thing definitely looked hawk sized!

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7 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Yesterday we were looking at Hermit Thrush when a brown-backed, shortish-tailed, medium-billed songbird landed three feet above it.  Same distance of about 25 feet to both birds, same lighting, unobscured view of both.  The second bird appeared to be about two-thirds the size of the thrush.  We'd heard Winter Wren in the area; was this it? 

Nope.  The twig stopped bouncing from the landing, and the bird turned around and showed its rufous tail.  The second Hermit wasn't as fluffed as the first one.

Interesting.  Do you have photos of them?

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I believe there are variations in some species, if not all.  There are a lot of pigeons around here.  When they're flying, there seems to be different sizes.  But most Sparrows, regardless of type, all seem to me to be the same size., except for (in my experience) Fox Sparrows.  This is why i started this thread. 😉

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2 hours ago, Colton V said:

How much does size vary between individuals of the same species? If humans can be 4’6 or 6’3, 130 lbs or 280 lbs, can birds be smaller or bigger than others of the same species?

I don't know for sure; but I do think there is variation, but since birds are small they may be much harder for us to discern in individuals. I have seen groups of birds together where some seem to be a bit bigger than others. But I think it's much easier for us to see the difference between a 5' human and a 6' human than between a 5" bird and a 6" bird. Also when I've seen House Sparrows in the US they look huge compared to the ones here, but since they aren't side by side it's hard to say. (And the sizes in field guides are usually ranges, suggesting that they do vary.)

Also humans have evolved and bred all over the world in for thousands (millions?) of years so there has been more opportunity for individual differences to develop. 

Other factors that seem to me to possibly be relevant: major size differences are survivable for humans, more and more with modern medicine and societal norms. But a bird that's far smaller or larger than average - I'm thinking here of the 3' tall and 8' tall adult humans - probably would have less chance to survive and reproduce.

Finally, at least some of the variation in sizes of humans is related to habits - exercise and diet patterns. I myself have been both 280 pounds and 180 pounds, but as a wild bird it's unlikely I would have been able to experience and especially survive that. 

Looking up info, the Titmouse should be 5.5 -6.3 inches (let's call it 6"), and the Blue Jay 9.8 -11.8 inches (let's say about 11"). So that would be like the difference between a 6' human and an 11' human. Far more variation than we actually see in humans (the tallest human on record was 8' 11", which was truly extraordinary AND caused by a medical condition, and far less than 11 feet).

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1 hour ago, KJS-LES said:

I believe there are variations in some species, if not all.  There are a lot of pigeons around here.  When they're flying, there seems to be different sizes.  But most Sparrows, regardless of type, all seem to me to be the same size., except for (in my experience) Fox Sparrows.  This is why i started this thread. 😉

I'll see if I can find a shot of Chipping Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows beneath my feeders.  The White-throats are visibly bigger, almost 50%.  House Sparrows are big bruisers too.

EDIT: Nope, I don't have any.  Sorry.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Earlier today.  There's scaffolding everywhere here, and I was standing against one of the poles by one of the remote lawns of my complex.  All of a sudden, I notice a bird on the pole just a few feet from me.  It was a Tufted Titmouse -- and it looked SO TINY!   (I didn't try to record it because I knew if I moved even an inch it would take off, but I was able to when it flew onto the ground still very close.)  

A few minutes later, I saw another very small bird on the ground, maybe 6-7 feet from me - a White-breasted Nuthatch -- only the 3rd or 4th time I've seen one.  It too looked much tinier than what I remembered from the previous sightings, which were further away, one on a tree limb.

So distance must also play a part in size perception.

 

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