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RWBL with EUST beak? (Central PA)

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Old Tuesday 5th March 2013, 19:50   #1
AJP
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RWBL with EUST beak? (Central PA)

Was out checking my bluebird trail a few minutes ago and saw three starlings in a tree. Upon closer inspection, I saw that one "starling" had epaulets. It struck me as very unusual to have a RWBL in Pennsylvania this time of year, but even odder still was that it appeared to have the beak of a starling. My 200mm lens couldn't reach very far, but here's the best shot I got. All three were chattering to each other (the other two were starlings for certain.)

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Old Tuesday 5th March 2013, 20:07   #2
The Falcon
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The bill looks pretty normal for a RWB to me. The photo was taken at a weird angle, which may be the reason why you think the bill is more like that of a Starling.

Red-winged Blackbirds shouldn't be uncommon in PA, now, or anytime of the year for that matter. In fact, this is when they are migrating, so you should start seeing more and more of them while they are moving through.
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Old Tuesday 5th March 2013, 20:11   #3
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They usually start appearing here mid-April, but maybe this one is an "early bird" (no pun intended). The beak still looked very strange to me.
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Old Tuesday 5th March 2013, 22:57   #4
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Its just reflection.
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Old Wednesday 6th March 2013, 01:30   #5
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Not a reflection. I studied him from many angles for several minutes.
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Old Wednesday 6th March 2013, 02:08   #6
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I don't get it. What about that bird's bill is starling-like?
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Old Wednesday 6th March 2013, 11:17   #7
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Nothing wrong with that bill. Sure it´s more starling- like then finch-like, but no wonder RWB´s are member of the starling family.
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Old Wednesday 6th March 2013, 11:42   #8
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Red-winged Blackbirds and starlings are not in the same family.
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Old Wednesday 6th March 2013, 11:51   #9
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RWB is an icterid, closely related to New World sparrows and, a bit more distantly, to Old World buntings.

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Old Thursday 7th March 2013, 13:19   #10
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Thanks guys, how I did mix up the families is curious for me, hence the family guide to icterids is on my bookshelf.
Of course without the European Starling, guess the german name for this species, Rotschulterstärling, let me travel the wrong way.
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