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South eastern Ontario, a pair of birds spotted for the first time. Very shy so no photos yet. Robin size foraging on ground under bird feeders. F is mainly brown with some lighter plumage and blends in well with the leaves, M has bold stripes black and white on head and a soft grey/beige chest and underbelly. I have trawled through photos online all day and cannot find anything but if i had to guess, some kind of thrush or cowbird. Please help!

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When I saw photos of those birds I thought it might be the one but the sparrow is way too small. This is a larger bird like a robin or blackbird size. Thanks for the reply though!

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Size can be difficult to judge, but White-throats are relatively large sparrows.  Were there any familiar birds nearby to compare size to?

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Posted (edited)

Yes other sparrows as well as robins and a number of other species. Smaller than a grackle but not much. I was only a few feet away looking through a window. Thanks for the reply!

Edited by AGwilliam

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1 hour ago, AGwilliam said:

South eastern Ontario, a pair of birds spotted for the first time. Very shy so no photos yet. Robin size foraging on ground under bird feeders. F is mainly brown with some lighter plumage and blends in well with the leaves, M has bold stripes black and white on head and a soft grey/beige chest and underbelly. I have trawled through photos online all day and cannot find anything but if i had to guess, some kind of thrush or cowbird. Please help!

White-crowned sparrow is my guess based on the description provided, and knowing first hand how easy it is to mis-judge size. When I first joined the forum about 10 years ago, I argued for days that the yellow bird in one of my photos was way too big to be a goldfinch. I'm still embarrassed by the way I argued with the experts that my bird was too big to be an american goldfinch. I look at the photo now and wonder how I could have missed the goldfinch field marks and have ruled them out just because of the size, it was obviously a goldfinch but I was hung up on the size, which I had misjudged. A photo or two, even bad ones, would be a big help with the ID, and help rule out any possible confusion about the size.

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Thanks for the help but they weren't sparrows of any variety or size. They were foraging next to grackles and sparrows.  The body shape is not the same as well as the size and I was only 6 feet away. I will take a photo asap. 

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Pictures, even terrible ones, often are much easier than text descriptions! Can't wait to figure out this mystery bird! 

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Posted (edited)

Perhaps an Ovenbird? It doesn't have black and white stripes on it's head, but it does have dark and light stripes and is thrush size.

Edit- That doesn't really match your description though.

Edited by lonestranger

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Thank you for all replies! I opened the curtains half asleep this morning and there was the male again! Very shy bird, and by the time I grabbed my camera it was gone....again although the others, grackles, sparrows, goldfinch, downy woodpeckers and nuthatch all held their ground! If I ever get a snap away I will share. Would love to sit in my window and wait all day however I have a life that needs attending to! 

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Bill shape, size, and color might be helpful in getting an ID if you could post that info. 🙂

My first thought was a White-crowned Sparrow also but you've ruled it out ...have you looked at Grosbeaks? 

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WTSP seems to be the best match.... have you looked at other Woodpeckers?

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Thank you all. Here is a really bad shot of one of the female birds in question balancing on the feeder in high winds. The chest is a bit speckled and this bird is approx blackbird size. The stripe at the lower head does not look like a large sparrow variety eg white crowned sparrow. 

20190509_152407-1-1.jpg

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1 hour ago, AGwilliam said:

Here is a really bad shot of one of the female birds in question balancing on the feeder in high winds.

How does the male differ from the female? Male Red-breasted grosbeaks are quite unique looking and wouldn't look anything like their female counterparts. That black stripe on the head doesn't really fit female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, does it? 

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13 hours ago, lonestranger said:

How does the male differ from the female? Male Red-breasted grosbeaks are quite unique looking and wouldn't look anything like their female counterparts. That black stripe on the head doesn't really fit female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, does it? 

Image result for rose-breasted grosbeak sibley

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, lonestranger said:

That black stripe on the head doesn't really fit female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, does it? 

It's a pretty dark, blurry photo.  I think that makes the bird looks darker and less streaky than it really was.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Posted (edited)

I can't argue the ID here, and not trying to. It looks like a grosbeak to me except for the black stripe, which I can accept as an effect of the dark photo. It's just that @AGwilliam mentioned male and female birds with the male having bold black and white stripes on it's head. Obviously there's some confusion about the male if the female is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, perhaps that confusion is just on my end. As @akandula's post shows, the male looks nothing like the female so I am curious what bird AGwilliam thinks is the male counterpart to his female grosbeak.

Edited by lonestranger

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