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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 06:39   #1
Chris in France
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Cool White-edged tail bird ID

Just returned from a two-day trip through a rural, forested area of central France. I had a quick glimpse of a pair of birds I'd like to ID. At the time I was driving through a dark forest in bright and sunny conditions but these conditions made it difficult to see the birds clearly. Anyway, the birds were feeding on the road ahead and, in silhouette, appeared slightly larger than a song thrush and brownish in colour. As my car approached they flew off into the trees. As they disappeared I caught a very quick glimpse of a brown-backed bird with a brown/black, white-edged, fan-shaped tail. The white edging was very clear and distinctive but I'm almost certain it was continuous, not broken, at the end of the tail. So, my biggest clue to the ID is the seemingly continuous white-edged tail. I've considered Turtle Dove but am not sure about it because of the apparently darker colouring (which may be explained by the lighting conditions) and the unbroken white edging on the tail. I've looked through the books but cannot find any other white-edge fan-shaped tailed birds of similar size that would fit the habitat. Have I missed any?

Last edited by Chris in France : Thursday 19th May 2005 at 06:42.
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 06:54   #2
Gwynn
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Hi Chris, How about a Hawfinch, it maybe a bit smaller than a Song Thrush but they do "look" quite big and the tail and habitat would fit.

Gwynn

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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 08:34   #3
Chris in France
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Originally Posted by Gwynn
Hi Chris, How about a Hawfinch, it maybe a bit smaller than a Song Thrush but they do "look" quite big and the tail and habitat would fit.

Gwynn
Hi Gwynn! I considered Hawfinch too but decided to discount it because the bird I saw was not as short and stocky and there were no obvious white bands on the wings. Also the white tail edging on my bird was not as broad and the brown back was not wedged shaped as in the Hawfinch. Thanks for the suggestion, maybe it really was a Turtle Dove, despite the strange colouring caused by poor light conditions.........
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 09:16   #4
Joern Lehmhus
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Mistle thrush out of question?
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 09:50   #5
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Maybe Nutcracker?

Hello,

Maybe a wild guess, but what about a Nutcracker. It came up my mind because of the description "white-edge fan-shaped tail".

greetings Eric
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 10:09   #6
Chris in France
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Mistle thrush out of question?
Thanks Joern. I would have said that it was this one if it wasn't for the fact that the white edging on the Mistle is on the corners and the tail is not as clearly fan-shaped as the one I saw. For the moment, I'm still leaning towards Turtle Dove.....

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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 10:28   #7
Chris in France
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Originally Posted by flevobirds
Hello,

Maybe a wild guess, but what about a Nutcracker. It came up my mind because of the description "white-edge fan-shaped tail".

greetings Eric
Thanks Eric...and greetings! I've never seen a Nutcracker but have considered this one. I don't think it's the one, though, because I didn't notice any spots on the back, the fan-shaped tail did not appear to be as wide as that shown in Collins and I don't remember the wings having 'fingers'. Also, is it likely to be found pecking away on the highway? I am in central France and as far as I know Nutcrackers are found further south in the Alpine region. If they are known to be in this part of the country I might think again.....
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 12:26   #8
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Turtle Dove must be favourite.
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 13:47   #9
Chris in France
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Turtle Dove must be favourite.
I think you're right but before I put my money on Turtle Dove I have one further question. Adult Male & Female Woodchat Shrikes appear to have the right shape and colour of tail and edging but their red-brown and black heads and the white on the back tend to rule them out. However, I'm wondering about Juvenile Woodchat Shrike. Are they around at this time and do they have the same white-edging and any dark brown colour on the tail? I know that it's a smaller bird than a Song Thrush, but not by much.
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 14:32   #10
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Shrikes would be very unlikely to be sitting on a road while 'pigeons' would.
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Old Thursday 19th May 2005, 15:48   #11
Chris in France
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Shrikes would be very unlikely to be sitting on a road while 'pigeons' would.
Yup, I guess that's the clincher. Of all the birds considered the Turtle Dove is the most likely to be scratching around on the road. It must, as you have said, be the favourite for the 'tick'.
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