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Rainbow Colored Bird in No Virginia--Identification Help (1 Viewer)

rachaelrm

New member
Hello,

I was hoping someone could help with the bird I saw today in Northern Virginia. I tried to take a picture, but didn't think of it because we were too busy talking about it.

The bird was about the size of a sparrow. Red head. At the neck line it had thin stripes that went through all of the colors of the rainbow, in order---orange, yellow, green, blue, then purple. I did not get a good view of the back because it was facing me....and I was too excited that it had all of the colors of the rainbow...in order. After it flew away I did see another bird briefly that looked like it may be the same in the front (did not get a long enough look) but the back was also bright red. Maybe a male and a female?

I realize that I am not giving great information....I was too much in shock because this bird looked very out of place for the United States.

I am in Northern Virginia.

Thank you.
 

KC Foggin

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Hi there and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum :t:

I'm not sure of what you saw. My first thought was a Painted Bunting until you said it had a red head. Hopefully someone will have some suggestions for you.

Please join in wherever you like ;)
 

rachaelrm

New member
Thank you so much! The Painted Bunting is the closest picture I could find as well, but the colors themselves are off like you said. The head was red and it had those stripes going through all of the colors....
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Among native birds, the two possiblities I can think of would be, as previously mentioned, either a painted bunting, or something iridescent, like a starling. Neither of those is likely to be described as having a red head, though.

So I started thinking about exotic cage birds. Here's one that's pretty common:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouldian_finch

Note that there are many varieties in different colors. The basic distribution of color patches (face, neck, breast, belly) is pretty stable, but some will have a yellow breast where others have purple, and so on.
 

tom baxter

Well-known member
Among native birds, the two possiblities I can think of would be, as previously mentioned, either a painted bunting, or something iridescent, like a starling. Neither of those is likely to be described as having a red head, though.

So I started thinking about exotic cage birds. Here's one that's pretty common:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouldian_finch

Note that there are many varieties in different colors. The basic distribution of color patches (face, neck, breast, belly) is pretty stable, but some will have a yellow breast where others have purple, and so on.

Agree. The options are painted bunting, exotic escapee, or a misinterpretation of field marks. The last of which is extremely common among people who do not have a preexisting knowledge of native birds and lack experience with taking careful observational notes. Of course, the details described in the original post do support the possibility of an exotic escapee. Keep in mind that lighting is everything and can render color interpretations very misleading
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
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I sure hope you can get a photo of it if you are lucky enough to see it again. Fingers crossed for you ;)
 

dacol

Well-known member
The OP said the bird had a RED head. Painted Bunting (male) has a blue head. An exotic cage bird is a possibility but I am going with House Finch plus some light effects.
 

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