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Black bird in central TX, white patches/bars on wings, head like an ani. One bad photo. (1 Viewer)

Tired

Well-known member
United States
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I've posted once before about a bird like this. I had gotten a very bad look at it that time, and the thread arrived at the loose conclusion that I had maybe seen a crow with a nutritional deficiency that had given it white patches. Well, I've seen the bird again, gotten a better look, and managed one bad photo. This one was only about 10 miles from where I saw the other one, so might be the same individual.

Any clue what this is? It looked about the size of a crow, but its body was thinner, and its wings were narrower and longer. They weren't the shape I would expect on a falcon or nighthawk, not that boomerang profile. You can see it had a white bar or patch on each wing, near the tip. It was flying relatively fast, flapping frequently. The last detail I got is the strong impression that its bill and head were the same shape as the bill and head of an ani. I was birding with someone else, who agreed- this bird had a very broad/tall bill. It's not an ani, they don't have white patches and their wings are blunter, but the head was definitely just like theirs.

I've looked through my Sibley guide twice. I don't see anything in here that looks like this bird. Am I missing something, or is this guy nonnative?
 

Butty

Well-known member
There has to be a mistake somewhere, as there's no such bird as you are describing. So I'll guess it was a nighthawk, and you made the mistake of thinking that what was actually head (with tiny bill) was head + big bill.
 

Tired

Well-known member
United States
The wings look almost right for a caracara, but they have a lot more white, and this one looked almost completely black. Is there such a thing as a dark morph crested caracara? It's possible it did have a large head that looked like a smaller head with a big bill, I suppose. Maybe I've just got ani on the brain because I want to see one. I like their head shape.

Thank you for the help, I never would have figured this out otherwise!
 
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Tired

Well-known member
United States
Okay, no, this is definitely a caracara. I found this video on Youtube, and that's exactly what I saw. The same wingbeats, the head is right, everything. I keep forgetting that seeing something against the sky means you really can't rely on color at all.

 

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