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ID help for Bay Area, Shoreline (1 Viewer)


Happy User
This time I don't have a photo, only a visual memory, and even if you can steer me even weakly in the good direction, it's helpful as it narrows the search. Let me phrase it as a riddle just for fun:

What's a bird that has the head colors of a white-crowned sparrow, the beak and size of a northern flicker, and flies like a miniature duck?

By the "fly like a miniature duck", I mean with the body immobile in a perfect horizontal ellypse, head pointed forward, and the wings beating at high speed... I don't know how to put it, but definitely not the flight of a sparrow.

What could it be?
Where in the bay was this? The species vary a lot depending where you are. I would suggest turnstone as well, but where you are makes a big difference.
What was the habitat? I'm also leaning towards a sandpiper or maybe a hooded merganser, but I might throw out a Hairy or Downy woodpecker as a slim possibility. (Not as good a match for flight posture / wingbeat pattern though.)
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