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Saw this guy today in central Vermont, soaring near a calling Broad-winged. I am having trouble determining how many “fingers” the bird has, as well if there is actually wing crescents, due to the molt. Does anybody see anything that could definitively say Broad-winged vs Red-shouldered here?

 

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I probably shouldn't be entering this conversation as I have very little experience with BWHAs or the Eastern RSHA subspecies, but I'd call that a Broad-winged if I saw it here in the west.

I'm not sure if molt pattern could say anything about this ID, but I do know that practically every spring BWHA record from the California and Nevada deserts are of SY birds molting their inner primaries, much like this bird. I'll also say this bird looks pretty much identical to the bird I saw in the desert this spring and called a BWHA. 

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13 hours ago, kansabirdguy said:

Looks like 5 or maybe 6 to me if that helps. Does that point to Red-shouldered?

Broad-wings have 4, Red-shouldered has 5

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1 hour ago, Avery said:

Broad-wings have 4, Red-shouldered has 5

I'm not very good at trickier IDs, or simple IDs for that matter, but I can count pretty good and I count five fingers on both wings. What I call 'fingers' might be wrong, but I am pretty sure my count is right.

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11 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

I'm not very good at trickier IDs, or simple IDs for that matter, but I can count pretty good and I count five fingers on both wings. What I call 'fingers' might be wrong, but I am pretty sure my count is right.

That’s my issue too. The molt may be making P6 look like a finger, or it could actually be one. 

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31 minutes ago, Avery said:

That’s my issue too. The molt may be making P6 look like a finger, or it could actually be one. 

I don't think a longer P5 would change my mind about calling P6 a finger, unless it was the same length as P6 which is similar in length to P7. If P5, P6, and P7 were all similar length, which I think you're suggesting, then I would be more inclined to say that there were only three fingers. As I mentioned, I'm not very good at IDing birds and have to refer to references when feathers get labeled and/or numbered, but that's how I would look at the molt issue with the little bit of knowledge I have. 🙂

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10 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

then I would be more inclined to say that there were only three fingers. 

Or I might think there were six fingers. Obviously I don't know what I am talking about so take it for what it is, a not very helpful opinion. 

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I see five and a spot where a feather .is missing on each wing.  Whether the missing one is a 'finger' is beyond my ken.

Thinking this through, or at least trying to, I think that's what it comes down to. Is the new feather going to be long or short?  If that's the determing factor, then shouldn't we be asking if there's 5 or 6 fingers? If a shorter feather comes in, even slightly shorter, I'd count 5 fingers. If a longer feather comes in I would question whether there were 5 or 6 fingers. A longer feather would remove the question of 4 or 5 fingers, wouldn't it? I still think there's 5 fingers, but just to be clear, there's far more that I don't know than what I think I know.

Edited by lonestranger
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36 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

Thinking this through, or at least trying to, I think that's what it comes down to. Is the new feather going to be long or short?  If that's the determing factor, then shouldn't we be asking if there's 5 or 6 fingers? If a shorter feather comes in, even slightly shorter, I'd count 5 fingers. If a longer feather comes in I would question whether there were 5 or 6 fingers. A longer feather would remove the question of 4 or 5 fingers, wouldn't it? I still think there's 5 fingers, but just to be clear, there's far more that I don't know than what I think I know.

Or do feathers get longer as they leave the bird's body making them long enough to look like fingers in these situations?  I am thinking it's the missing/incoming feather that is causing confusion, but I am now questioning if it's possible that the length of an outgoing feather can create confusion too?

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8 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

No.  feathers stop growing when they reach their full length during molt.  They're not like hair.

I wondered if part of the feather's quill had to come out from under the skin enough to make it look longer during the process. It wouldn't actually be growing, just more of the feather showing as the quill becomes progressively more detached. Like I said, and will keep repeating, I don't know what I am talking about, but I am trying to think things through so I can learn a bit more, even if I won't be able to remember a fraction of it when I need it. 🤷‍♂️

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7 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

I wondered if part of the feather's quill had to come out from under the skin enough to make it look longer during the process. It wouldn't actually be growing, just more of the feather showing as the quill becomes progressively more detached. Like I said, and will keep repeating, I don't know what I am talking about, but I am trying to think things through so I can learn a bit more, even if I won't be able to remember a fraction of it when I need it. 🤷‍♂️

Just want to point out that my shrugged shoulders is in reference to my wanting to learn even if I can't remember it. I am not shrugging off @Charlie Spencer, his input is appreciated and if it wasn't appreciated, I would be looking for different hand gestures to express that. 😁

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2 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

Just want to point out that my shrugged shoulders is in reference to my wanting to learn even if I can't remember it. I am not shrugging off @Charlie Spencer, his input is appreciated and if it wasn't appreciated, I would be looking for different hand gestures to express that. 😁

Yeah, yeah, kum-ba-ya and buy the world a Coke.  :classic_wink:

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