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Neighborhood Pond bird IDs

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Old Friday 23rd April 2004, 23:23   #1
gthang
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Neighborhood Pond bird IDs

Hey, i saw a couple of birds with silohuettes i've never seen before (not that I can recall, anyway), and was wondering if someone could help me out. I know the pictures are not that good, but it was an overcast day, and the birds never moved from their perches.

I saw these two birds down at the pond (pond picture included too!) and for the first bird, I snapped a front shot, then quickly moved a couple hundred feet around my initial starting point to photograph the rear of the bird. The third picture is of something I believe to be a grackle or something with a large bill. To me, the bill resembles those found on a cormorant or an anhinga, but shorter.

I have enclosed a picture of the pond itself (more like a small lake in size though), and have edited to show points of interest. the nesting site of the GBH is sort of a pond/marsh, and really, there's so much terrain variation here, it's almost like it's manmade. the foreground body of water is a pond, and the nesting site, is sort of pond/marsh like, then towards the east, is a bog (since I don't know what a bog really looks like, i use this term to describe a large body of water that often surrounds gaggles of trees). then, further east, is a small creek, home to dozens of tiny fish and other wildlife. Towards the north from the creek is a huge coniferous forest, home to a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers, deer, and other critters. This coniferous forest is in the middle of a deciduous forest. Like I said, over a huge area, this uncleared land area (unsettled by humans) is rife with wildlife, and terrain varies greatly.

I have also included a sparrow picture. I think it's a song sparrow, but given the overcast conditions, it doesn't look right to me. Maybe someone could validate this bird for me.
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Old Friday 23rd April 2004, 23:52   #2
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#1 kind of looks like a robin or kingbird, #2 like a Rusty or Red-winged Blackbird, #3 like a Red-winged or Rusty Blackbird... and your pond looks a little small for Redwings.

Geez, GT, get a flash!
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Old Saturday 24th April 2004, 00:10   #3
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Flash wouldn't have worked anyway, i tried it before on a canada goose, and only the eyes showed up!

sparrow is probably a song sparrow.

regarding pond being too small for redwings: I did see a redwing fly across the pond (took five seconds going eastward!)

Warbler, the pond is in Stormville, NY.

Pictures 1 and 2 are of the same exact bird. I moved toward the rear of the bird after taking the second picture. The third picture is of an entirely different bird.
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Old Saturday 24th April 2004, 02:24   #4
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When it comes to red-wings it doesn't matter how big the pond is, they'll nest where there's almost no water. The key is nesting habitat i.e. cattails and sedges, etc. which this part of the pond doesn't seem to have. I'd say the first bird is most likely a Red-winged Blackbird. The second bird looks strange. Do you remember any coloring on him or was it black like the pic shows? Is his tail really that short or it that the angle of the shot? Yes, the sparrow is a Song Sparrow.
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Old Saturday 24th April 2004, 02:38   #5
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The second bird is all I could get of it. The tail does appear to be that short, but appearances can be deceiving. The bird is not black, the coloration in the photo is due to overcast conditions and looking up nearly vertically (probably at an 80 degree angle to the ground). That's why i made the third picture a combination of the original unbrightened image and the original with enough brightness and contrast added to show the beak meeting the face of the bird (it's faint, I know!) That's the best picture I could get of it. I'm sure it might be a icterid or corvid of some sort.

Thank's for all the help guys!
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Old Saturday 24th April 2004, 02:44   #6
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You say the bird wasn't black, what color was it?
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Old Saturday 24th April 2004, 02:57   #7
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i'm really not sure... I first saw it from a distance (black), then as I made my way toward it, it was still black. So i'm not sure if it's really black or if it's because i'm looking up into the sky as I see the bird...
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 16:20   #8
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OK, I'm back from Bashakill Marsh. I have two groups of birds for ID. The first group is attached, and are from Bashakill. The seond group are from the neighborhood pond.

The first three pictures are of the same birds at different times of the day. the last two are of entirely different group of two birds. the two birds appear to have crests. Below are the pics.
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 16:27   #9
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This second group of pictures are also from Bashakill. They are all the same group of birds and taken from various angles.
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 16:29   #10
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This last group are from the pond.
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 21:04   #11
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Group #1
Bird #1 = Song Sparrow
Bird #2 = Horned Grebe (not 100% sure, though)

Group #2
Birds = Ring-necked Duck

Group #3
Bird #1 = Yellow-rumped Warbler
Bird #2 = American Robin
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 22:24   #12
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Could the "Horned grebe" be an Eared Grebe instead?

And what made you come to the Ring-Necked Duck conclusion?
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 22:27   #13
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Can anyone else confirm Warbler's IDs?
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 23:35   #14
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Though it is a little hard to tell from the photos, it looks more like a Horned Grebe than an Eared. Also the Horned would be in your area while the Eared is fairly rare in the east. The main field marks I use to i.d. Ring-necked Ducks are:
1. ringed bill
2. white vertical mark before the wing
3. head shape (to distingish from scaups)
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Old Sunday 25th April 2004, 23:52   #15
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I agree with warbler on the the pics...but not to sure on the horned grebe. Thats what my first thought was, but the shape didn't seem right for a grebe, but the creast would point towards that. The eared grebe would be a rare find there, and I don't think that bird looks like an eared either...hard to tell from the photo. You can see the yellow rump on the 3rd groups 2nd picture (they should be back there...saw one here just a few hours ago). Sparrow has the breast spot for the Song, the ducks look like ring necks, and certinly a robin in the one pic. I would say that on your first group the 3rd picture looks like a American Crow, and the first two look like red-wings, but could be Rusty's. I usually see the rusty blackbirds in large groups, do you remember if this one was GT?
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 00:14   #16
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Taco, regarding whether the unidentified bird was in a group: no it was all alone. sitting on a tree branch!

Thanks everyone for the help! Not sure about horned grebe either, the backside of the head has the feathers sticking out, but not at the top part of the head...
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 13:12   #17
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On the way to Bashakill yesterday, I spotted this bird (probably a European Starling) feeding on the animal hospital's lawn (!!!!). Can anyone ID this one?

And can anyone confirm the above IDs from yesterday?

Thanks!
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 13:33   #18
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The only one that interests me is the grebe; in the first picture, the all-dark foreneck (as well as the headplume pattern) suggests breeding-plumaged Eared; in the second picture, the lefthand bird, on the same characteristics (a bi-toned neck and headplume pattern), suggests Horned. Eared is of course, as Warbler and Taco remark, a rare bird back East. I wouldn't want to make a definitive choice, but Horned is much more probable.
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 15:09   #19
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Yep, it´s an European starling in your last photo!
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 18:13   #20
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Regarding the Grebe: The male appeared to be different coloration than the female. In grebes, aren't both sexes exactly the same?
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Old Monday 26th April 2004, 23:16   #21
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Yes, as I remember, they are. They do have winter and summer plumages, though. So the first bird is in breeding plumage and the other probably still changing from winter. I'm not sure if grebes need several years to acquire breeding plumage, if so, then that's the other reason.
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Old Friday 30th April 2004, 14:28   #22
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Hi gthang, I did give you several i.d. tips on how to i.d. the Ring-necked Ducks also proving that they were indeed Ring-necks. I'm about 200% sure that those are Ring-necks. In the first pic you can really see the head shape on the left hand duck, no other duck has that destinct head shape. On the fourth pic, the head shape is again seen and the white 'spur' between the breast and wing/belly. As for the grebes, I don't think you can get a 100% correct i.d. with these photos, but it's probably a Horned (going by range alone).
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Old Friday 30th April 2004, 15:21   #23
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Ok, thanks!

So proud to have gotten three new ticks that day, don't you think?
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Old Friday 30th April 2004, 15:22   #24
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Hi Gthang,

I'm not at all sure the 'grebes' are grebes at all - they don't have the right shape I think. Grebes have effectively no tail, so they show a dumpy rear end with nothing sticking up, yet the pic shows a clear tail tip pointing up right. The bills also look too long and stout for grebes.

My best guess is Wood Ducks, with the male on the left; the white collar is right for that. The crest appearing yellow could just be sunlight reflecting off the glossy feathers that they have.

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Old Friday 30th April 2004, 16:06   #25
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Michael, I think you're getting somewhere. I was studying the second picture and realized that the duck on the right has what appears to be a huge crest pointing straight down. Are you 100% sure about the wood ducks, though?
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