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Thread subject: Dawn Chorus, a noobie...
Name Date Message
martyc35 08/19/12 03:49 pm Guest host Sallycat fills in and does a good job: LINK
Shelley 08/19/12 06:47 pm Thanks Marty. Interesting diary today.

I tried the link she mentioned in the diary to identify a bird I saw at my feeder today for the first time. I tried the ID step by step but it didn't help. So I tried to email them and attach a photo but after filling out everything properly, I got an error message when I tried to submit it. Sigh.
Trishrg 08/20/12 08:31 pm Hey Shelley- post your picture here!!! Let us take a crack at ID!!!
Shelley 08/20/12 08:33 pm Oh Trish. Here I go again. I use Flickr and don't know how to transfer a picture from there to here. Would you post your email for a moment so I can send it to you? Then you can remove your email from this thread
Trishrg 08/20/12 08:45 pm

Send me the link, and I'll try to post a link to your pic. I bet Mel could ID it.
Shelley 08/20/12 08:51 pm Ok, on its way, thanks. I bet you are right! ;-)
Trishrg 08/20/12 08:54 pm Here's Shelley's bird.
Anyone want to help with ID?
Trishrg 08/20/12 09:52 pm I think it's a Juvenile Dickcissel!!
Shelley 08/20/12 10:42 pm Someone else guessed a juvenile evening grosbeak. The floor is still open....

(thanks for posting these, Trish)
martyc35 08/21/12 01:26 am I'm going to agree on Dicksissel. Close as I can come.
Celeste 08/21/12 03:30 pm Paging Marie and or Melanie!!!!!

Shelley 08/21/12 08:54 pm Actually, now that I have that name (dickcissel) I went back to my local birding guide book and am pretty sure this is the correct ID. The book doesn't show pics of juveniles but it sure looks like my mystery bird will grow up to resemble the male pictured in the book! Thanks Trish and everyone!
Melanie 08/23/12 11:21 am I'm not sold on an immature Dickcissel (who came up with that name, anyway?)

I don't have my Sibleys here at work but I do keep a Stokes that has photographs. Here's what they show for an immature Dickcissel:

Beak/feet color: grey
Back/wings: Brownish Grey that kind of gradiates (?) to an ivory chest
Breast has fine streaking coming down the chest and a definite streak that extends down the side of the throat and chest chest from the bill.
Brownish crown with fine dark streaks
Head coloring extends down to the cheeks
Thin dark streaks on the flanks
Males don't develop their black throat/chest patch that looks like a meadowlark's until they are a yearling - might be a little early for this year's brood.

Shelly's bird:
Pinky/orange bill and feet
Warm Brown back/wings
pronounced dark throat patch
Solid head
Cheek patches don't match the head color
Dramatic difference between the wing and chest color
Solid white flank

I'm pretty comfortable saying it is NOT an immature evening grosbeak.

Shelly, are you sure you have Dickcissels in your area? I'm not seeing any of them going north of the Great Lakes but that's not to say they haven't moved.

For the moment I am calling this one an LBJ (little brown job) but I sent the links to my birding guru.
Shelley 08/23/12 02:32 pm I have a note in my guide book that I think I identified an adult dickcissel a few years ago at my feeder but I could be wrong on that, goodness knows. As for this one, I honestly don't know. The guide book I use most, by the way, is called Birds of Ontario (Lone Pine Field Guide, first published in 2000) and seems pretty comprehensive. Here is part of what's written on the Dickcissel page:

"Since the first Dickcissel sighting in Ontario in 1895, there have only been a handful of sporadic nesting records and largely unpredictable sightings. Its erratic and irregular behaviour both befuddles the motivation and ignites the imagination of would be observers....Dickcissels are sometimes seen foraging in small flocks during migration, but they are most regularly seen among troupes of House Sparrows at backyard feeders over winter."

That isn't exactly resounding confirmation or proof, of course, but it does at least confirm that they are present in S. Ontario where I live. Its wings made me think it was just a fledgling sparrow at first because goodness knows I have a hell of a lot of those! But the colouring - the light yellow - is what made me snap a ton of photos before it flew off. Thankfully, it was hungry and busy at the new feeder so it stayed put and wasn't spooked by other birds.

I look forward to what your experts come up with!

By the way, I mentioned to Trish in an email the other night, I bet some guy named Dick Cissel came up with this name! lol!
Melanie 08/23/12 04:00 pm I'm going to take a stab and say I'll bet it's going to an American Tree Sparrow. But I haven't heard back from Harry yet.
Shelley 08/23/12 04:11 pm The American Tree Sparrow in my book has a significantly smaller and pointier beak. It also says (though no pics) that the juvenile has a streaky breast and head. Mine doesn't seem to. But those sparrows can be tricky....
Shelley 08/23/12 04:41 pm Marty, do you think someone from your Dawn Chorus group might know? Maybe you could post a link to just this thread, if reposting the photos is too time-consuming. What do you think? They are a pretty knowledgeable group and the more eyes, the better...
martyc35 08/23/12 05:34 pm I can try that on Sunday. They love such puzzles.

Shelley 08/23/12 06:12 pm Thanks!
Melanie 08/26/12 01:54 pm I just heard back from Harry and the answer is - (drum roll) a plain old every day immature House Sparrow.
Shelley 08/26/12 02:18 pm Seriously? I have absolutely tons of house sparrows at my feeder every day and I can usually tell the babies from the adults quite easily. I have never seen one this colour, though. Interesting.

Trishrg 08/26/12 04:04 pm Wow, I could say with certainty, that does not look like ANY house sparrow I've ever seen.

Considering they are nesting in the corner of my roof half the year and I'm occasionally shoving them back in there when they fall.... The bill is not right, colors not right. Doesn't look right to me.

This guy has his photos protected, and has a couple of really nice shots of immature HOSP.

Melanie 08/26/12 05:08 pm Harry has more birding gravitas than any of us could ever have and is recognized among ornithologists on the East Coast as one of the top birders in the US. I have confidence that if he says it's an immature house sparrow then that's what it is.
martyc35 08/26/12 07:35 pm I put the pic up on Dawn Chorus, so we'll see if anyone there chimes in.
Trishrg 08/29/12 09:50 am I signed up for a Toronto birding site last week, and they finally confirmed me on Monday. I posted the pix, and got another House Sparrow ID.
Sorry Mel for my bonehead reply.

Melanie 08/29/12 09:53 am Not a problem - immature birds don't always do what the field guides show. I've also learned (actually had to learn several times now) that a bird that doesn't quite fit a description seems to end up being something mundane.

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