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Cerulean Warbler/Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher/Indigo Bunting/etc? Nashville, TN (1 Viewer)

hamlinjk15u

Well-known member
United States
I was hiking around Radnor Lake State Park yesterday and caught this little guy. Indigo Buntings are very common, and thats what I thought it was initially (never heard a song or call) however now looking at my photos again closer, the markings don't seem to match an Indigo Bunting.

Doing some research, I am leaning most towards a Cerulean Warbler, which based on its migration pattern, would seem to make sense (end of migration season, beginning breeding season) although maybe a little behind the power curve moving more north?

I also used Picture Bird and it gave me a few different outcomes, but some weren't even from near here.

Hoping for some help IDing this bird. thank you!!
 

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Microtus

Maryland USA (he/him)
Supporter
United States
Definitely a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Take note of the white outer tail feathers and the white eye-ring.
Yes! Cerulean Warbler has wing-bars and a shorter tail, while Indigo Bunting has a shorter tail and a thicker bill and no eye-ring.
Also, welcome to the Forum!
 

hamlinjk15u

Well-known member
United States
Yes! Cerulean Warbler has wing-bars and a shorter tail, while Indigo Bunting has a shorter tail and a thicker bill and no eye-ring.
Also, welcome to the Forum!

Thanks so much for the detail! This is exactly the kind of help I was hoping for when I went looking for a bird forum. Thank you again so much! Although, sad it's another blue-gray (have seen many, just not from this angle and with this light) and not a cerulean. thought I had a new entry for my life list!
 

stuartelsom

Registered User
Supporter
United Kingdom
They're certainly worth waiting for. A special bird indeed and you'll certainly know a Cerulean when it pops up, here's a taster of what's to come! The same individual as pictured in my Avatar.

Stu
 

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AveryBartels

Well-known member
Thanks so much for the detail! This is exactly the kind of help I was hoping for when I went looking for a bird forum. Thank you again so much! Although, sad it's another blue-gray (have seen many, just not from this angle and with this light) and not a cerulean. thought I had a new entry for my life list!
There are a few basic steps you can take in working out an ID that can be a helpful starting place to work from:

1. What is the bill shape? - this can be a very helpful starting place as it, as much as any single feature, can narrow your search down to the right family (Warblers, Sparrows, Flycatcher etc.)
2. What is the facial pattern (if any)? - there are some common features to look for such as eye-ring, eyebrow (aka supercilium), moustachal stripe, crown stripes etc.
3. Wing patterning - does it have wing bars or other wing markings?
4. Tail - shape and markings/patterning if any

Let's apply that to your case, with the three species you suggested.

1. Bill is medium length and very thin (rules out Bunting right off the bat!)
2. Pronounced white eye-ring, small black stripe over eye. Neither Bunting nor Cerulean have eye-ring
3. Wings lack bars with only a bit of white edging to some of the fight feathers. Lack of wingbars rules out Cerulean Warbler
4. Tail is pretty long and has white edges. Both features rule out bunting. Cerulean does have white in outer tail feathers but their tail is fairly short.

At any rate, this is one way to approach bird ID that I think is a helpful "formula" to employ :)
 

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