Saturday, July 18, 2009

Confusing fledglings will assist in fall identification

The youngsters are out and the adults are undergoing their basic molt. Many stages of young prove to cause some quandaries as to what bird you are really look at. This can also be extra complicated with sparrows in juvenile plumage as I have eluded to before. Take a look at this bird: This is a fresh one from the nest and then look at this bird a few days older. You can begin to see its basic plumage revealing some identification features.
The bill is turning pink and the white eye ring is becoming apparent. This would tell me I have a Field Sparrow. I hope you came up with the same conclusion.

Bill color can help in many cases to age the birds to hatching year but there are exceptions that always crop up like this bird:
It is an adult male Prothonotary Warbler and the bill color at the base is no longer that silver gray as you see in the spring. Hmmm, you might say it is a hatching year bird because the bill has not yet hardened from its fleshy nestling state. However, this bird was a brilliant yellow male with symmetrical molt going on. Always some exceptions and sometimes it falls within the species not just the individual.

Take a look at this bird:

One, can you tell what species it is? Look at picture two; it will give a hint with the gray legs…..
It is a hatching year Baltimore Oriole. When you look at its head feathers you can see they are still the loose juvenile feathers as well as the bill color has not turned a slate gray of an adult.
All things considered, young birds can be confusing at times. Baltimore Orioles are staging now in the marsh region. There are family pods moving together with other Baltimore Oriole families. These orioles are one of the first species to migrate south. The Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers that nest in northern Ohio will have migrated south by the end of August. So get out and see your last few “yellow” warblers!

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