Archive for June, 2008

Mystery Birds Galore!

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

There have been a lot of tantalizingly mysterious birds showing up at CONE Welder over the last several days. Here, in chronological order, are a bunch that have me puzzled. (Thanks to robin54 for writing to bring my attention to these; she suggests we might want to see if we can get Dr. Selma Glasscock to weigh in on them, which sounds like a great idea to me.)

I’m going to number them for convenience in referring to them.

Mystery Bird #1

leacox took this shot on June 22 at 7:18 a.m.:

There’s a really interesting wine color going on there. It immediately made me think of finch, or maybe the Rose-breasted Grosbeak that was around the first week or so the camera was live, and hasn’t been seen since. But I assume the grosbeak hasn’t been back because they were migrating through, and are on the their breeding range now, well north of Texas, and really, that bird doesn’t say “finch” to me in any particularly strong way. What do you suppose it is? Is that color just a trick of the light? I wish we had a better shot.

Mystery Bird #2

Here are four shots of a bird from June 23 at 7:33 a.m. The first two shots was taken by txbird; the last two by rafa:

I’m leaning toward an immature Brown-headed Cowbird on these. I wasn’t familiar with what immature cowbirds looked like before this, but looking carefully at Sibley, I think this bird fits the bill pretty well.

Mystery Bird #3

These two shots were taken at 12:07 p.m. on June 23. The first is by txbird, the second by rafa:

I wish these shots were just a bit clearer, so I could get a better sense of the bird’s beak. The txbird shot looks like it shows a distinct wingbar, which has me thinking “oriole”. If I only had rafa’s shot to look at, though, I might be inclined to vote for a female Painted Bunting. But given that wingbar, I think I’d put my chips on oriole, maybe a female Orchard?

Mystery Bird #4

These shots were taken at 4:00 p.m. on June 23. The first is by vanilla, the second by tinyang:

This bird has an interesting posture. But I think maybe it’s a relatively familiar bird that just happens to be holding its body in a somewhat unusual position. I guess I’d go with a female Brown-headed Cowbird here.

Mystery Bird #5

txbird took this photo at 5:15 p.m. on June 23:

I’ve got nothing here. Could be another female Brown-headed Cowbird. Could be any of a bunch of other things, too. Really hard to say. Some shots just weren’t meant to be ID’d, I guess.

Mystery Bird #6

Update: Oops. There is no mystery bird #6. The bird I originally had here was a mislabeled shot that was taken during the same sequence posted above as mystery bird #2. I’ve moved it there now. Thanks to rafa for pointing out my mistake. One mystery solved! 🙂

Mystery Bird #7

So, what have we here? The following shots were taken around 2:07 p.m. yesterday (June 24), by txbird (the first photo and the last two) and by rafa (the second and third photos).

That’s a really interesting yellow color on the throat, especially in the first image by txbird. The plain wings pretty much rule out orioles for me, so what does that leave? Female Painted Bunting seems like a possibility, but what I can see of the beak seems too big. I could see this being a female tanager, either a Summer (which makes more sense per the Sibley range map) or a Scarlet (which Sibley shows in the area only during migration). The Welder checklist shows both of them as “uncommon” in the summer.

Or it could be an immature Brown-headed Cowbird, I suppose, with the yellow being more a video flare than a real color. I’m not seeing any of the pale edging on the back and wing plumage, though, that the immature cowbird is supposed to have. (See the mystery bird #8, below, for a nice example of that.)

Mystery Bird #8

Our last mystery shot was taken this afternoon (hm; yesterday afternoon, now, since it’s after midnight here), June 25 at 5:19 p.m., by txbird:

I’m leaning toward an immature Brown-headed Cowbird for this one.

All in all, a nice big batch of mysterious birds to argue about. 🙂 What do you all think?


Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I apologize for my light posting schedule lately. I’ve been putting a lot of time into a contest my daughter I are planning to enter. The deadline for our submission is next Thursday, so hopefully I’ll have more time to devote to CONE Welder soon.

In the meantime, check out these beautiful shots of male buntings taken yesterday afternoon. The first is of a Painted Bunting taken by txbird; the second is an Indigo Bunting taken by vanilla:

Both birds were photographed during the same half hour. Oh, to have been on the birdcam during that half-hour! 🙂

More Painted Bunting Shots

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Three users each got a shot of the male Painted Bunting yesterday, including this shot, which was essentially the same shot taken by both birderbf and idbirds (petinkeyworth got the other one):

My goodness but that’s a beautiful bird. Congratulations, everyone!

Update: txbird and rafa each got some more shots of this guy today (Sunday, June 15). Here’s one by txbird and two by rafa (respectively):

These shots aren’t as good as the ones from yesterday, but I wanted to post them to the blog anyway for two reasons: 1) I figure they might help people get a better idea of where to look for these guys, and 2) it’s such a gorgeous bird I can’t help myself. 🙂

Great Kiskadee!

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

I think of the Great Kiskadee as something of a “grail bird” for the CONE Welder installation; I stared at pictures of it a lot while waiting for the camera to go live. I confess I’d started to think we were never going to get one. But look what txbird found perched in the bare tree on June 10:

It must not have stayed there for very long, because no one else got a better shot. But there’s no doubt about the ID. What a great bird! Congratulations, txbird.

Favorite Shots from the Last Few Days

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A couple of noteworthy shots of the past few days:

After all the late-night hours we’ve put in in hopes of getting another shot of the Barred Owl that showed up on the first night after the camera’s public unveiling, vanilla finally got lucky. Check out this shot, one of several that she got in the wee hours of June 10:

I also really liked this shot bugchik got on the morning of June 11:

Cattle Egret!

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Look what rafa found skulking around in the long grass today:

Congratulations, rafa, on getting the game’s first Cattle Egret!Viagra vs levivia
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Mystery Finch? Bunting?

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

tinyang and vanilla teamed up to snap five photos this morning of a bird that I’m scratching my head over. Check them out:

The shots are by tinyang, vanilla, vanilla, tinyang, and vanilla, respectively. According to txbird in chat, some users have suggested Varied Bunting, but I’m having a hard time reconciling those images with that bird, at least based on the field guide, which is the only place I’ve ever seen one. If I had to put money on something, I’d call it a drab male House Finch, but I’m not positive about it.

Varied Bunting doesn’t appear at all in the Welder checklist, and House Finch only as “rare”, and only in winter, so I’m really not sure what to think. Anyone else have any ideas?

Update: As discussed in the comments, I’m feeling more inclined to call this one a male House Finch. It’s a little unusual-looking, at least compared to the House Finches I’m used to seeing, but I’m pretty comfortable at this point saying that that’s what it is.

Later update: rafa alerted me to the fact that one of these images (the second from the bottom, by tinyang) has now been officially classified as a House Finch. Congratulations, tinyang!

Eastern Bluebird!

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

I’m behind on posting about this, but check out what’s been showing up (in the evenings, mostly, apparently). This first shot was taken by birderbf on Sunday, June 1 at 6:11 p.m.:

And this one was taken by yan today at 5:07 p.m.:

Eastern Bluebirds (like all bluebirds) are real favorites of mine. Something about the combination of their appearance, their manner of flight, and their beautiful voices really works for me. I’ll watch bluebirds any chance I get.

I haven’t had much time to watch the CONE Welder birds lately, but I’m really looking forward to catching a view of one of these bluebirds myself. In the meantime, congratulations to everyone who’s been fortunate enough to get a shot of one.Neostigmine
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