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This was taken at Benton Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana last summer (July 20).   I didn't actually photograph the bird, but noticed it later in a landscape shot.  So I never zoomed in on it.  Here is a cropped shot.  It sort of looks like a pied-billed grebe to me, but the white throat is throwing me off.  The bill looks too short for other grebes.  Any thoughts on it?

Thanks in advance!

1306641815_DSC04375largecrop.thumb.jpg.da5d8e068256dcf0e9db75f986f41a67.jpg

 

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I'm watching to see what others think of this. Color looks wrong even for a pied-billed and yeah, the white on the throat doesn't look right. The bill looks almost curved, like I'm looking at a sea bird... but I really have no idea what this could be. Just odd.
The more I look at it the more I feel I'm looking at a photograph of a painting, not an actual photo of nature.  Things are blurry yet, sharp. If I zoomed in on a picture I had taken it would just be blurry.
Anyway, I'm just not sure.

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Is it possible this is actually a bird in the air and not in the water? I see what looks like a fanned out tail with a dark band at the bottom of bird, making me wonder if what appears to be the head of a grebe in water is possibly the curl of a bird's wing where both upper and lower parts of the wing are visible making it look like a grebe's head. Perhaps a bird of prey after something in the water? I'm probably way off but that's what my imagination sees when I zoom in on the bird. Keep in mind that my imagination has been known to work better than my eyes now and then. :classic_laugh:

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Here is the original picture (uncropped and unedited).  Maybe it will zoom better.  This boardwalk is a National Recreation Trail and whenever I am on one, I take pictures to post on the NRT database so hikers can preview the trail.  I didn't notice the bird until I was posting the picture.

DSC04375.thumb.JPG.2d3a77dd13323f0a4b80c9db1766d853.JPG

 

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Posted (edited)

I can't get the original photo to look remotely like your cropped photo. Everything gets far too distorted to see the bird(?) when I try to zoom in to the same proportions as your crop. I suspect your original(2nd) photo is being resized somewhere in the upload process and wonder if we're actually seeing the original photo in it's true original size. If you have a flickr account, perhaps you could upload your original photo there and maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to see the true original better when we zoom in. Sorry, but I can't even ID the bird as a bird when I zoom in on it in this photo.

Edited by lonestranger

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Wow, I just downloaded the "original picture" back off the site as well.  The upload really did mess it up.  It looks nothing like the original.

Unfortunately,  I don't do flickr.  I think the picture in the OP is as good as i can provide.  Zooming in on the original picture is not much different than the crop in the OP.

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Posted (edited)

The bird is holding a small fish horizontally.This is what is throwing the profile off.Shadow angle is consistent with the birds shadow.Pied.

Edited by John Landon
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lonestranger's thought it might be a bird flying the other way got me thinking about challenging what I was first seeing.  Now I'm also thinking what first looks like a black bill might not even  be part of the bird.  I was thinking it could be something floating in the water, but John's idea of a small fish could do it too.

Based on Benton Lake's bird list, I'm leaning towards Western Grebe and assuming we don't actually see its bill.  The good news is I got much better pictures of a Western Grebe on this trip so its not a lifer.  I don't need to sweat this one.

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So many thoughts... I'm not sure this can be identified. Not that my opinion matters but, I'm not seeing anything yet. I mean, I was hoping someone could give a suggestion and then I'd look and say "oh yeah, I can see that..."
But so far, I can't. Something does look like a fanned out tail but, what would have a tail that looks like that and POTENTIALLY be over the water like that?  And if that is the tail, I REALLY can't make out the rest of the body.
Grebe? Maybe... Would any of the grebes found in Montana have that kind of plumage in July?
I will say I don't think western is likely. Looking at the larger image, it's difficult to figure distance and size but, I really do think a western grebe would look more prominent there. I think we'd be able to get a better feel for that and, I think the profile of the bird would be different.
The whole thing is hurting my brain. I'm positive there is water movement there, signifying that the whole object isn't likely just an inanimate object... but the ripples on the right side, or what I believe to be, are making it hard for me to get a better idea of what I'm looking at... So, I deleted what looks like water ripples to me, on the right and left side of the, well whatever it is.
Sadly, it didn't help. It helps me to look at what I think is the object in question but sure didn't help me come up with something.
Wow... rambling. it's just hurting my brain to look at... yet I can't look away. HA

what.jpg

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You'd think I had nothing better to do(I do) but just for fun, here's the bar charts for that location and listing the birds that have been seen/reported there during the month of July(all years.)
https://ebird.org/barchart?r=L247318&byr=1900&eyr=2019&m=7

anyone have any more thoughts? Or, fun guesses? Like that tail is actually the fin of a fish that's trying to eat a chinstrap penguin that's sticking its tongue out at us.
Okay, I need to go try and be useful somewhere.
I love mysteries except for when I don't. HA

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