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Thread: ID please for a flycatcher (?)

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    Default ID please for a flycatcher (?)

    Sorry I don't have a better photo. I took this one from pretty far away. It was high in a cottonwood tree at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The photo should be geotagged. I took this photo this morning (Dec. 9, 2011). It looks like some sort of flycatcher (ash-throated?), or maybe a vireo but not one that I recognize (though I'm a beginner). Vermilion flycatchers and black phoebes are quite common at Sweetwater these days. There are also tons of warblers migrating through the area now, most commonly yellow-rumped and orange-crowned. Sorry if this is a no-brainer. As I said, I'm a beginner. Thanks.


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    BPN Member Dan Brown's Avatar
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    The bill, face markings, longish tail and overall color look good to me for Northern Mockingbird. I don't see much of the white wing markings that should be obvious but they may be covered by the breast and side feathers as this guy is fluffed up. My 2 cents!

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    BPN Member Paul Guris's Avatar
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    Looks like Northern Mockingbird to me as well. Dan is right about the wingbars. You can see that the pale gray feathers of the mantle are covering almost the entire wing except for the flight feathers.
    Paul A. Guris
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    Ha! Thanks, guys. I'm sure you are right. I am slightly embarrassed!

    Paul

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    And yes, all of us were fluffed up yesterday morning--a cold morning in the desert!

    Paul

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    BPN Member Paul Guris's Avatar
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    Paul, you really shouldn't be. I have a good friend who did much of the photo editing for Birding magazine for years and she said that ID from photos can be a very different game compared to ID in life. Your bird's pose is not how most of us think of Mockingbird looking, and it has managed to cover up its best field mark. If somebody who didn't know birds had this as their only image of a Mockingbird, do you think they'd be able to ID one in their back yard? These are often the kinds of photos people use for photo ID quizzes, something with enough for ID but not providing the full monty. For me this is a big part of the fun of bird photography. Moments not normally noticed or positions and behaviors often too fleeting to notice get frozen for you to enjoy at your leisure.

    I'll leave you with one of my favorite ID anecdotes. Many years ago (well before digital) I bumped into David Sibley in the Cape May Meadows. He handed a photo and asked me what I though it was. The image was of a bird in flight. It was small, silhouetted against the sky, and it didn't look like anything. I tried to turn it into a grackle, a hawk, almost anything that had a fairly long tail but I was stumped. Then something finally clicked, I flipped the photo, and immediately saw that it was a distant shot of a Brown Pelican! (This was back in the days when this species was pretty uncommon for NJ.) Dave said that when he got his pictures back from developing, he pulled the photo out of the pack upside down and his first reaction was "what the heck is this and why did I bother taking the photo?"
    Paul A. Guris
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  7. Thanks Paul Muhlrad thanked for this post
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    Paul,

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and wisdom. What a terrific, informative post!

    Paul

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