Mystery Bird: Summer Tanager? Clay-colored Robin?

A number of users got shots of the following bird this morning. Forty-five minutes of chat discussion ensued (that I missed; we really need a chat log feature). Folks seem to be leaning toward Summer Tanager (which is what I voted for, before hearing about the discussion), but at least one user is suggesting that we consider Clay-colored Robin.

Check out the images. These were taken by txbird, loughman1, txbird, vanilla, and ohiobirder, respectively.

Image 32939

Image 32940

Image 32948

Image 32952

Image 32953

Here’s a shot of a Clay-colored Robin that txbird found on the Web for comparison:

There’s a grayish color to this bird’s head that is really interesting to me, and that I can’t really reconcile with Sibley’s illustration of either of the birds we’re considering.

I think on balance I prefer Summer Tanager for this bird’s ID, which is a shame, since Clay-colored Robin would be a new bird for CONE. But it’s not on the Welder checklist, nor is it mentioned in the list of neotropical “species of interest” in the CONE Welder study. And really, looking at these images, it looks more like a Summer Tanager than either the web photo or the Sibley illustration of the Clay-colored Robin (a bird I’ve never seen in real life).

But either way, it’s a really interesting series of shots.

2 Responses to “Mystery Bird: Summer Tanager? Clay-colored Robin?”

  1. loughman1 says:

    We discussed possible identification both before and after the pictures became public. One of the things brought up was that we couldn’t get a sharp focus. The bird was perched on the orange/red line at the left of the panorama. The light seemed odd [note the color of the grass], and I wondered whether the sky was hazy or smoky, or whether there was a coating of dust on the lens.

  2. elanus says:

    Oh, that’s interesting about the color. If you scan down through the photos (which are listed in the order they were taken) you can see that there’s a magenta tinge in the first few images that is gone by the last few images. I’ve noticed that effect before, and I suspect what might be going on is that the camera has some kind of automated color-balancing that it does. I’ve noticed that the effect seems to happen when you shift the camera from one field of view (with a particular color dominating) to another (with a different color dominating). The image is oddly tinged for a few seconds, then corrects itself.

    Something to look for, anyway.

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