Color Is Not The Only Clue

Screenshot from video tweet by pacificnorthwestkate

14 May 2021

Every once in a while we find a very unusual bird that defies identification.

This one was filmed by pacificnorthwestkate (@pnwkate) at the Delta in Vancouver, BC, Canada on Thursday 6 May 2021. Its chest and belly look like an eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) but its shape, beak, voice and behavior are like a red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). The final clue is that he hangs out in marshes with red-winged blackbirds.

As you watch him move and hear him sing you know who he is.

A commenter on the tweet remarked that this bird has been frequenting the Delta for about three years now. Speculation is that he’s leucistic rather than hybrid.

When you identify birds, color is not the only clue!

(tweet and screenshot from pacificnorthwestkate @pnwkate)

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