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Birdsong

ID Help: Flycatcher???

7 posts in this topic

I thought this was a Great Crested but now I'm not sure. On other photos, tail is notched, back is brown, not greenish, wing bars obscured for the most part, but seem to be minimally present, distinct necklace between throat and top of breast. Lower story. No song. No monopod either, unfortunately, and a little overcropped for id purposes.

3503368184_ed728af305_o.jpg

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Sarah, you're right in that it's a flycatcher species. It's an eastern phoebe or eastern wood-pewee. I'd say phoebe.

Using photographic guides to ID bird species isn't something I recommend as the usual course of business. Too many variables in too many processes to suit me. The illustrations in the best bird guides (Sibley, National Geographic) are more representative than photographs.

Next time, look to see if it does a lot of tail-wagging. That's a distinctive phoebe behavior. Also, check the songs. The pewee is a more musical and swooping pee-o-wee, the phoebe a hoarse phee-bee.

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Eastern Phoebe for sure. You can see the wind pick up its crown feathers giving it a crested look. Eastern Pewee do have a crested look even without the wind. But Eastern Pewees do not have a yellow wash on the breast nor the contrasting darker crown vs. the cheek and other upper parts of the bird. The flicking or pumping of the tail is a good identification mark but there are other birds that also pump its tail as well.

Eastern Phoebe is the first flycatcher bird species to arrive in Minnesota. Great-crested Flycatchers do not arrive in Minnesota till about next week in southern Minnesota or so.

Mike

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Thanks, Mike. I knew you'd be looking in and could fill in the gaps with a professional perspective.

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I knew he would be, too. Thanks both. So, the little stinker was throwing me off with his little pointy head and yellow belly? I have phoebes every spring, and think of them as less brown, more dark gray and no yellow. And the morning was absolutely dead still yesterday. That being said, my Golden Field Guide, which does have drawings rather than photos, gives them a little pointy head and the juveniles look just like this one. Could he still be considered juvi at this time of year? I have never been good at flycatchers. I am hoping in the process of being out all the time again, (retirement--yay!!) that I can become a better birder. You guys are a great help and maybe a new Sibley Guide is in order.

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Sarah, I don't know if it would still have juvenile plumage, but Mike will know the answer to that for sure. Some bird species wear their immature plumage into their second summer.

Head/body shape can vary depending on how the feathers lie. Wind can push them around, and the birds themselves can change them (the phoebe has a small crest it can elevate, as well). There's some plumage variation among individuals in almost all bird species, and the Golden guide isn't the best at showing such variation. It's pretty far down the list of my preferred guides. In descending order, I prefer the Sibley, National Geographic, Peterson, Kaufman and Golden.

The Sibley in particular does a great job with a variety of subtle plumage differences (many of them vary slightly based on region) and on differences between adults and immature birds.

Check one out in the book store if there's a good book store near you and you'll be amazed at just how well a bird guide can be done. I sure was. You might also pick up The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, which is an excellent companion volume to the field guide and is packed with great information.

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Check one out in the book store if there's a good book store near you and you'll be amazed at just how well a bird guide can be done.

Our local book store closed up a little over a month ago. However, I was able to pick up the Sibley Field Guide and Stoke's Field Guide at 40% off. smile

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