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Birding Photo Quiz: August 2019

Adult male orioles in breeding plumage are a thing of beauty. And a cinch to identify. You’re in Pennsylvania, say, and it’s May. An Orchard Oriole flies by, or a Baltimore Oriole is singing from the treetops. Easy peasy. The females and second-summer males of those species are more subtly marked, but, still, Orchard vs. Baltimore just isn’t all that hard in Pennsylvania at that time of year. Or you’re in New Mexico, say, and it’s June. Same basic exercise: Bullock’s vs. Scott’s, and this isn’t rocket science.

Now let’s say you’re in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and it’s winter. Whole ’nother ball game. You’ve got a half-dozen species to deal with now, and the subtropical woodlands there are teeming with birds transitioning among all sorts of plumages: first-winter this, second-winter that, immature female, subadult male…maybe even some hybrids mixed in for good measure.

Here’s one:

What species is it? How old? Male or female? The date is early March, by the way, and we’re at legendary Bentsen–Rio Grande Valley State Park. Bird ID guru Mary Gustafson expertly explicates this oriole in the Aug. 2019 issue of Birding, but let’s also discuss here in this forum. Working out bird IDs together is one of the best ways to learn!

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