Another Quiz

Another mystery bird in a real life setting.  Just like real life this bird is far away and slightly backlit.

How to identify it?  Here are some things to notice:

  • Shape of head
  • Size and color of beak
  • Posture.  Notice how upright this bird is.
  • Color
  • Length of wings relative to the tail.

Any ideas on this one?  Can you tell it's sex or age?

Let me know.

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

p.s. The apparent dent in its chest is not significant for identification but it's interesting.

16 thoughts on “Another Quiz

  1. Good answers, all! You know your cardinals.
    I don’t think it’s possible to tell what sex this bird is from this picture but maybe someone with more experience can. Any takers out there?

  2. I thought Cardinal too before peeking at the responses. Looks young..and I’m going with female. Unless the little ones go through extreme color change into adulthood..those feathers seem more the muted tone of the female, but for some reason..those eyes look like a male to me!

  3. Yes, my first guess was a cardinal too. Now completely off subject, I watch a dragonfly cruise back and forth over my swimming pool each morning. Even scooped him(?) out one day. Today I have five flying back and forth constantly. Are they looking for a drink? Is it a mating thing? With all the chemicals in the pool I wouldn’t think that would be to healthy for them. I also have a birdbath and a shallow drinking pond nearby. What is going on with them? Thank you in advance for all your wonderful knowledge. P.S. Loved the picture of the century plant at Phipps!!! Kat

  4. Dragonflies lay their eggs in open water. The five you see may be patrolling over the pool because it looks to them like a good place to lay eggs. I am not a dragonfly expert but I believe they don’t have a formal courtship “dance” the way male ruby-throated hummingbirds do. However the males do patrol, on the lookout for a mate.

  5. Hi Kate!

    I have a mystery bird that has shown up twice in my yard in the past week. About the size of a crow, all brown with a white band running around his neck and down both shoulders, he caught my attention by how loud his landing was on the fence and how quiet all the other birds in the area had become. I went into the house to get my binoculars and when I came back outside, it was sitting in the middle of an overgrown apple tree in the yard next door, very close to several bird houses. I have been having an abundance of finches, robins, jays and mourning doves this year. Anyway, I couldn’t get a good look at the bird so I moved a little closer with the binoculars, but he flew and landed on top of a telephone pole at the street. As I was watching him, I was amazed at how he was being “peppered” by a group of birds — they were divebombing at him — and eventually he flew off, with the divebombers continuing the chase. I was wondering if it might be a fledge pelegrine — there was a nest in Olympia about 25 miles from here. I know, very vague, but Kate you are brilliant — so, any clues as to what it could be???

    Oh, as an aside, my husband went out to get the paper around 5:45 a.m. last week and saw a bald eagle sitting in the middle of our street about 2 houses down, munching on some opposum that had been “roadkilled” during the nite. He took some pictures of the eagle — they are not the greatest pixs, but I would be more than happy to upload and share (if I knew how!!!). Hubby said the telephone wires were full of crows sitting and waiting for the eagle to finish up. Eagles in this area are not common, so it was a treat!

  6. Hilary, where are you located? Western US (Olympia, Washington?), mid-US? eastern North America? I’ll need the location to begin to make a guess.

  7. They also could be eating the little gnats and bugs over the water…most of the dragonflies I see are overhead and in the gardens, doing a great job of getting bugs… I wish they could eat Japanese beetles…think they are too big for them, but the Cardinals and the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks do a good job of munching them down. If you watch snags or rocks in the sun, they like to perch and “sun” on those…I have a few snags in the pond just for that reason…butterflies and other birds will use them also…

    I pretend this Staghorn Sumac is my “palm tree” in the yard…birds like to perch on it, before they come into the yard. The baby Cardinal should by late fall have the beak color of an adult. If you have babies, you know how noisy they are…

  8. Kate-

    I’m in Steilacoom, Washington — about 25 miles northeast of Olympia. We are situated right on the Puget Sound.

    In addition to failing to mention what part of the US I’m in, I also failed to mention my favorite birds that frequent the area — woodpeckers. They are absolutely beautiful and the calls they make to each other are so unique. Having moved up here 3 years ago from Southern California (seagulls, sparrows, pigeons and crows, primarilly), I am so enjoying the multitude of different birds!

  9. I haven’t seen our peregrine family in about a week, but yesterday I spent some time watching a very striking-looking dragonfly over by Schenley Pool. It had black wing spots and a bright, powdery-white abdomen. Turned out to be a male Common Whitetail:

    I don’t know how “common” it is, but it was quite beautiful! Of course, it didn’t light anywhere long enough for me to snap a picture.

    And the neighborhood hummingbirds are now frequent visitors to my backyard, since they discovered my new feeder. Naturally, THEY don’t stick around to pose for pix either! But they’re wonderful to watch.

  10. I have 2 pine trees in my back yard where a pair of cardinals have nested for several years. From what I have observed as I watch the juveniles with the adults, is that although they both look like the adult female, the male seems to be more colorful where the female is more brown.

  11. I’m so glad I got to see this picture. This evening, 3 of these juveniles flew right through my back yard, and perched in my neighbor Eddie’s trees. A few days ago, I probably would have wondered just what sort of birds they were — but now, I knew! Plus, Papa Cardinal showed up and perched on my fence (right by the tree with the hummingbird feeder) and kept a watchful eye on his brood. I didn’t spot Mama, but she could easily have been there. They nest somewhere over in the wooded part of the vacant field behind my house.

    Oh, yeah — the Papa rubythroated hummer came to feed at least 3 times while I was watching. Now that they’re visiting my yard regularly, I may have to get another feeder and hang it closer to the house.

  12. Yes juvenile cardinals have gray beaks. Their mothers’ feathers are a similar color to the juveniles’ but adult females have bright orange-red beaks. For me that’s the easiest way to tell the difference between them.

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