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Dave Austill

Trying to identify bird with red on back of head

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trying to identify the bird in the background (not the female cardinal in foreground).  Seem on August 3, 2019, Otisville, Michigan (Flint, MI area).  Only picture I have of this bird, unfortunately view is partially obstructed.  Thanks for any help. has me totally stumped.

DSC04208-2.jpg

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Welcome to Whatbird!!

This is a male House Sparrow. Not a native species, it was imported from Europe. When I was a kid we used to also call them English Sparrows. It is identifiable by its black bill and black bib.

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Welcome!

If you're looking in a field guide, imported House Sparrows usually aren't listed with native North American sparrows.  Most guides have them near the very back, in a separate grouping of imports / non-native / non-endemics / other term to indicate they aren't from around here.  That may be why this one stumped you.

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10 hours ago, Bird Brain said:

Welcome to Whatbird!!

This is a male House Sparrow. Not a native species, it was imported from Europe. When I was a kid we used to also call them English Sparrows. It is identifiable by its black bill and black bib.

Yes, when I was growing up they were "English" Sparrows

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I'm certainly not targeting Dave with this comment, but this demonstrates why I feel it is still important to have a printed field guide even in this day of ID apps and web resources. 

Systematically thumbing through a field guide can help a birder recognize types of birds he may not already be aware of.  It can help to recognize what birds are closely related to each other.  It can also help recognize which birds AREN'T closely related despite initial superficial similarities.

I keep one in the car.  I use it for ID'ing sometimes but it's there mostly to take with me if I know I'm going to be waiting somewhere - DMV, etc.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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On 9/13/2019 at 12:09 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

I'm certainly not targeting Dave with this comment, but this demonstrates why I feel it is still important to have a printed field guide even in this day of ID apps and web resources. 

Systematically thumbing through a field guide can help a birder recognize types of birds he may not already be aware of.  It can help to recognize what birds are closely related to each other.  It can also help recognize which birds AREN'T closely related despite initial superficial similarities.

I keep one in the car.  I use it for ID'ing sometimes but it's there mostly to take with me if I know I'm going to be waiting somewhere - DMV, etc.

I whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment. I don't think many birders actually do that anymore, and they certainly don't seem to read the thing. I can remember going back-and-forth through my first field guide when I started, looking at the pix, looking at the range maps, and reading the text. Absolutely critical.

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