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Old Jun 9, 2004, 10:47 PM   #1
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Photos today: this first one is not a chickadee and I think that it may be some sort of warbler or fly catcher. Whatever it is it was extremely vociferous, and constantly so. Please help me identify it. As well, the other photos below are of a sparrow I believe, but I particularly appreciated his poses and the background effects so I posted.

What am I called?



Surrounded by hyper-color. My first sighting of this little one, from behind some limbs (that's the frontalblur, honest)



Bad hair day, but nice purplish brownhair (hmm, what kind of sparrow is this?)



Close but still wary




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Old Jun 10, 2004, 11:56 PM   #2
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Norm, you take some awesome bird shots!

I might be able to shed some light on what these birds are. I used to be an avid birdwatcher who almost ended up going to graduate school in ornithology (I became a computer programmer - go figure).

The first picture looks to me to be a flycatcher, probably one of the Empidonax complex. There are five Empidonax (the genus) flycatchers that all look very much like one another and it is difficult to tell them apart without also considering their breeding habitat, song, and nesting habit. During migration most everyone just says they saw an Empidonax flycatcher. Let's leave it at that for this little guy.

The last 2 pictures could be either a fox or song sparrow. I'm leaning towards the song sparrow but I could easily be wrong and it is the fox sparrow. Would you estimate that the bird you photographed was perhaps the size of a junco? ...or something larger? If the latter, the bird is probably a fox sparrow.

Was the second picture the same bird as the last 2 pictures? It seems so to me...
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 12:19 AM   #3
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geoffs, fantastically helpful post, thanks! Yes, it was the same bird and you are the second one to suggest the song sparrow (I've got this photo posted in other places). As well, you say almost exactly what another expert has said about the first one. In other words, two experts is quite enough for me to say, verified and acceptable. Thanks for your input!
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 12:32 AM   #4
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You're very welcome, Norm. And keep posting these bird shots. I love 'em. In fact, it would be fun to post the pictures without the identification and have people try to figure out what they are!
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 1:26 AM   #5
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geoffs, well, that's what I usually do because I'm a beginner at this stuff. I can guarantee to you that most of what I post, beyond what I've found out, will be questions about exactly what bird I've taken a photo of. And that's part of the intrigue for me. It's nice to have people like you around who actually know the answers.
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 4:41 PM   #6
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geoffs, I think I enjoy Norm's ID challenges as much as his photos. It is especially fun when the possibilities include birds which are local to other areas of the continent. Identifying birds from photos alone is sometimes tough because the image often obscures the necessary visual clues, and as you said, knowing habitat and something of its song is very important.

Norm can help us out a bunch by telling us 1) the location where the bird was photographed, 2) the habitat, and the date the photo was taken. For instance, one isn't likely to find a Hammonds Flycatcher in a lowland shrubby marsh, nor a Song Sparrow in a dry grassland, but if it's early May along the Gallatin River at 6000' elevation in Wyoming then all bets are off because those birds could be just about anywhere during spring migration.

Geoffs is right on about the Empidonax flycatchers being difficult to separate by sight alone. I think this one may be a Dusky Flycatcher because of its all dark bill, round head shape, short primaries and the minimal yellow except in the undertail, but I could be wrong. Empids have a habit of singing their denial of my initial ID based on sight. I also agree the sparrow is probably a Song Sparrow. The bird in the photo is very reddish like the eastern Fox but lacks the inverted triangles which typically make up the streaks in the breast and sides of Foxes.

Now, if Norm would use the FZ10 to record the bird songs while he photographs them and then include a wav file with his image posting we could cinch those IDs.(':-)

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Old Jun 11, 2004, 4:46 PM   #7
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I can agree with everything you said Hummer. Norm, if it isn't too much trouble, could you post location, habitat, and date info with the pictures you put up here? It'd be invaluable for guys like Hummer and I, who have previous birding experience, and very instructive to others who'd like to get into birding or are just learning.

Also, Hummer's idea of recording the bird's songs for hard to identify birds is such a neat idea. It's probably a bit of trouble for you so I'm not expecting it :-)
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 5:45 PM   #8
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a cd recorder...if there is such a thing would work....lol...or a recorder that just records onto a little harddrive in the thing...like an mp3 player....

nice shots btw....i need to find my birdbook....lol
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 5:51 PM   #9
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Actually, I was thinking of something as simple as the capability that my C-8080WZ has. The camera allows you to annotate each photograph with an audio message, if you enable that mode. I don't know if it would be sensitive enough to pickup the birds well enough, but it's worth a try.
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Old Jun 11, 2004, 6:02 PM   #10
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Ocassionally, I give slide talks on birds and bird banding and lately have been using Microsoft PowerPoint because of the flexibility to use several images, graphics and text in a single slide. PowerPoint also supports wav files so I use them to aurally illustrate a bird display. One of these days I want to try incorporating Quick Time movie shorts in PowerPoint. The Panasonic FZ10 does a remarkable job of recording sound and 30 frames per second movies which would show the shuttle mating display of a hummingbird in a way that just can't quite be explained....

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