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TexasCobra

Flock on the wing in Texas 78070

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These don't look like waxwings to me, they look like blackbirds. Based on head/bill shape I would say maybe brown-headed cowbirds.

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I tentatively agree with waxwings.  I brightened the photo on my computer and they appeared to have paler bellies and whitish undertail coverts.  The triangular shape to their heads seems to fit waxwings as well.

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Yeah. I can't speak to coloration, it just seems like wing shape, head shape, and the short tail also fit cowbirds and that was my first thought.

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Posted (edited)

If you click on the photo it should take you to my flickr account where you will find additional comments and analysis.  You will also find two related photos from previous observations.  The wing shape reminds me of a WWII Supermarine Spitfire which had a broad elliptical wing with pointed tips.

Edited by TexasCobra

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I could be convinced of cedar waxwing but it's difficult to say. Do you remember the flight style of these birds? Were the wing beats extremely fast, or were they slower with a undulating flight. 

I will add as a side note, it seems that your picture labeled turkey vultures from the 28th of February is actually showing black vultures.

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1 hour ago, mills0000 said:

These don't look like waxwings to me, they look like blackbirds. Based on head/bill shape I would say maybe brown-headed cowbirds.

Yes that's what I thought

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16 minutes ago, mills0000 said:

I could be convinced of cedar waxwing but it's difficult to say. Do you remember the flight style of these birds? Were the wing beats extremely fast, or were they slower with a undulating flight. 

I will add as a side note, it seems that your picture labeled turkey vultures from the 28th of February is actually showing black vultures.

I do not recall the frequency of wing beats.  The birds appeared to take a direct and purposeful direction of flight with a minimum of changes in position within the flight.  They did not assume a regular formation as geese usually do.

I see turkey vultures on a daily basis.  I do not see the black vultures as often.  I distinguish the two species by coloration and size.  In poor light and with no reference to treetops or roof tops to determine size, I might confuse the two species.  If you have additional criteria for identification I would appreciate that information.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, TexasCobra said:

I do not recall the frequency of wing beats.  The birds appeared to take a direct and purposeful direction of flight with a minimum of changes in position within the flight.  They did not assume a regular formation as geese usually do.

I see turkey vultures on a daily basis.  I do not see the black vultures as often.  I distinguish the two species by coloration and size.  In poor light and with no reference to treetops or roof tops to determine size, I might confuse the two species.  If you have additional criteria for identification I would appreciate that information.

The main thing is the white patches on the ends of the wings, which are visible on both birds. Black vultures have entirely black wings except for the white patches. Turkey vultures have black on the front parts of their wings, but the back parts are lighter. Note that the patches on black vultures are actually white, and on turkey vultures they are just lighter if that makes sense. Black vultures also have a different shape with different wing beats, as well as a shorter tail. I don't have a ton of experience with them but I've always found their shape and wing beats to be slightly bat-like.

As for the birds at hand, it's difficult to make an ID based on the information you have of their flight. I might say waxwings have a slightly more erratic flight on average than cowbirds, but I don't feel confident putting that out there as strong evidence.

Edited by mills0000

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These waxwings on Macauley appear to have some differences from the initial photo.  The first think I noticed is the separation between the ends of the primaries.  None in the original photo appear to spread that much.  Yes, I realize they're at different distances but I don't think that accounts for it.  Also, some of the original birds appear to have rounder heads and be slightly pot-bellied compared to these,

Oh, and they're definitely Black Vultures.  The underside of the wings is pale only at the ends, not also along the trailing edge.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/87070101#_ga=2.197808751.1793021658.1586602293-196113470.1578226306

image.png.7ecaf8f31bea84a081d1164fb1e9ebe1.png

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Oh, and they're definitely Black Vultures.  The underside of the wings is pale only at the ends, not also along the trailing edge.

Black Vultures have separation between the ends of the primaries too.

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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Turkey Vultures

 

Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

I agree with cowbirds. Or, rather, I agree that they're not waxwings. The tails are too short for waxwings, the heads too large and blunt (see brightened crop of pic, below).

Cedar Waxwings in flight

flock.jpg

Edited by Tony Leukering
forgot a sentence

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