April Bird of the Month

Hi, it is still spring migration in Florida.   This photo was taken at Fort De Soto Park, central west coast of Florida April 17, 2014.  This bird is the quiz of the month species.  What is it?  -SLB  

Bird of the Month Quiz April, 2014

Bird of the Month Quiz
April, 2014


Identification of a Warbler during March migration in Florida

This identification has me vacillating between a Yellow-throated Warbler and Northern Parula, both of which are passing through my area of Florida in their migration.  This photo was taken at Fort De Soto, Gulf Coast, central Florida March 18, 2014.  Any help would be much appreciated.  -.SLB


Warblers or Vireos

Here are two photos that were taken March 18, 2014, at Fort De Soto park’s North Beach area.  Warbler or Vireo?  They appear (but could be the same?) to be different birds, but the same species.  Is there a green band on the leg of one?  What species?  Thanks for all the help.  SLB

What Bird Is This Part Two

What Bird Is This Part One, Is there a band on the left leg?

What Bird Is   One

What Bird Is
Part Two

What is this bird flying over the Gulf of Mexico on a windy, chilly day

What is this bird that was flying over the Gulf of Mexico?

What is this bird that was flying over the Gulf of Mexico?

I went to Indians Rocks, Gulf of Mexico, central Florida Feb. 15 on a very windy day when it was a bit chilly.  I was hoping to see a couple of pelagic birds.  Is this one?  

I also saw this bird on the beach today, and I think I know what it is, but am not positive.  It was running back and forth in a zig zag motion in the low surf.  Shorebirds in their non-breeding plumage can be flummoxing for me. -SLB

What is this shorebird that is smaller than the Short-billed Dowitcher it ran past.

What is this shorebird that is smaller than the Short-billed Dowitcher it ran past?

Grebes and loons

Since I got no takers for my Western gull mystery, I figured I would now ask if you could give me a hand with the following grebe and loon ID. Both photos were taken last month (January 2014) on the Pacific coast, near Vancouver (a few steps from here, in fact). Keep in mind both birds were very far away, the light was quite bad and I had to severely crop both photos (which explains the fact they are grainy). BTW, this is the highest resolution possible.

The first photo is of a grebe. In my book (National Geographic, 6th ed.), they say this is a “paler winter” adult. The main clue: This bird clearly has a flat crown.

The second photo is of a loon. In this case, many questions arise: Are those scales or speckles on the back? Are their any thick or thin “neck straps”? What colour is the bill? How extensive is the white area on the face? In this case, I believe we are faced with a second year bird that is just completing its transformation to full adulthood.

Grebe-Vancouver_BC-January_2014 Loon-Vancouver_BC

An unusual bird in this area

This bird is a rarity in Florida.  She has been hanging around a fig tree in Pinellas County, FL, on the Gulf Coast in the central part of the state.  What species is she?  -SLB

What bird is this?

Photo 1

2014_01_19  DSCF0530

Photo 2

A West Coast gull mystery…

This time, I am really and truly stumped. This is a case of having taken three pictures and thinking nothing of them (or the species they represented) until I took a good look at them. Now someone like me, who knows what the gull situation is on the west coast (especially when you are looking at large flocks of them), should have known better. But then again, I guess this is why this website exists!

So, here goes the explanation. At first, I thought these were all Glaucus-winged Gulls, a fairly common species out here in greater Vancouver, BC. But upon closer inspection (most especially: the secondaries of all three birds are much too dark, even black), I noticed that none of these gull were pure GWGU!

I will dispose of the “easiest” of the three first: The second bird is certainly in part a GWGU. The only question remaining is what is the other half, Western or Herring Gull? We may never know, but I would welcome any educated guesses!

The first and third birds are not so easy. The first not only has nearly black secondaries, but its bill is much too small to be related in any way to a GWGU or Herring Gull. My best guess is that it is a Thayer’s Gull. The third also looks like a Thayer’s to me, although in this case, I am guessing this is an “old” second year or a “young” third year transitioning to full adulthood. Does anyone have an alternative explanation?

BTW, one final, general comment is in order: I have been told by a few people to be cautious about the black or red stains on the bills, as they are a fairly unreliable way to identify gull species.

Mystery gull no. 1

Mystery gull no. 1

Glaucus-winged Gull hybrid (perhaps with a Western or Western Gull?)

Glaucus-winged Gull hybrid (perhaps with a Western or Western Gull?)

Mystery gull no. 2

Mystery gull no. 2