Blog Birding #36
by Nate Swick
Happy Independence Day to American ABAers and a happy belated Canada Day to those north of the border!
Kenn Kaufman, his blog Birding with Kenn and Kim, considers Roseate Terns:
Some treatments of tern identification focus on bill color. The mostly-blackish bill of Roseate Tern can be useful for quick ID, but it’s tricky, too: other terns have blackish bills for part of the year, and in transitional stages they can show color patterns much like that of the Roseate’s bill. The SHAPE of the bill is a better confirming point. It’s relatively long, thick at the base and tapered to a fine tip, with the gonydeal angle on the lower mandible located fairly close to the base of the bill.
Alex Lamoreaux of The Nemesis Bird offers a useful three part series on variation in Swainson's Hawks:
There are three distinct ages of Swainson's Hawk that can easily be recognized in the field, with little effort. They are the juvenile, subadult (also known as 'immature' or 'basic 1'), and adult stages. Each of these ages can come in a variety of color-types. There are about 20 different possible combinations of age and color-type for the Swainson's Hawk, making it one of the most diverse raptors as far as plumage goes. However this also makes it one of the most confusing.
Rob Fergus asks which of us has taken the birding road less traveled on the Birdchaser blog:
17 years later, how many of us sill don't know Joseph Hickey's 1943 classic A Guide to Birdwatching, in which Hickey outlines how any bird enthusiast can make real ornithological discoveries by carefully studying local birds? If it isn't strictly a road not taken, amateur ornithology is at the very least birding's road less traveled. While the hobby of birding Birding has grown immensely since 1943, it is still mostly about identifying and finding birds, rather than about scientifically studying them.
Rick Wright of Birding New Jersey (née Aimophila Adventures) considers the southwest's parid replacement:
Thank goodness for Verdins, fluffy mesquite dwellers whose size and confiding nature make them the perfect chickadee substitute. There was a time, if I remember right, when this species was included in an expanded family Paridae along with the chickadees, but nowadays it and the other penduline tits occupy their own Remizidae, of which our desert bird is the only American representative.
Greg Gillson at Pacific NW Birder has a fascinating mystery gull, one that may really stump you:
Ignore the bright white feather color for a minute and look at other field marks, especially shape. This fairly stocky gull has wings that extend barely beyond the tail (it is “short-winged”). The eye is dark, but I do see a paler iris than pupil in one photo. The forehead is rather flat and sloping. Legs and feet are pink. The bill is nearly entirely black, with pink gape (the corners of the mouth on the face) and a bit of paleness at the base of the lower mandible. The bill is heavy and thick, “swollen” at the gonys (where the red spot would be on the lower mandible, if this was an adult of one of the larger species of gulls). The bill is strongly hooked.