Sunday, August 05, 2007

Mystery Bird?

I had a couple birds hanging out on my deck this morning that I just can't identify. It's not a matter of not being able to tell one sparrow from another, either. This bird just doesn't look anything like anything in my book.

It had an orange head and breast, which "faded" to yellow on the tail. And when I say orange, I mean Baltimore Oriole orange. Seriously orange. Like some kid had taken an orange crayon out to color a bird. It was almost the orange of some marigolds.

The wings, though, were dark sith some light mixed.

There were other birds around. One was near a female/immature Rose-Breasted Grosbeak for a moment, and the Mystery Bird was smaller, but not hugely smaller. It also had a way pointier looking beak.

It was quite a bit larger than the Goldfinches or Housefinches.

My best guess for now is a rather orangey variant female Baltimore Oriole. But wow, really way more orange than the Peterson's guide shows for female Baltimore Orioles. And the beak isn't quite right. And it seems small.

My second best guess is what the Peterson guide shows as an orange variant of the Scarlet Tanager. Except my Mystery Bird had a more yellowy tail than the picture shows for that, and was less orangy on the breast and underbelly.

Other things I noticed: no eye striping or white ring. The beak seemed heavier than a warbler beak (though I'm not good at warblers; maybe a Yellow Warbler is a possibility in the confusing fall warblers way?), and the bird a bit bigger.

At first, it was perched on the deck next to some planters, either picking at plant parts (the tops, but not really flowers) or bugs on the plants. Another was on a trellis, doing the same at a climbing plant.

The area's a hilly, suburban, grassland near some tree stands w/ oaks and birches and such, mostly.

If anyone is a hot shot birder, could you give me some idea of what it was? Or if someone knows some hot shot birders who might know what I was looking at, could you ask them to toss me some ideas, please?


  1. You have two options, I think. One is a male vermilion flycatcher. However, the flycatcher doesn't have the "fade to yellow" in the tail, and it has a rather delicate beak. Therefore, my guess is a tananger: either a juvenile or the orange variant.

    What fun for you! I have Cooper's hawks and great horned owls in my back yard, but the most exotic little guys I've seen so far are chickadees. Damn neighborhood cats eat 'em all.

  2. Thanks, Angry Prof! I think you're totally right about it probably being a juvenile tanager. After I read your suggestion, I looked around for pictures, and there it is!

    Thanks for your help.

    I'd be happy to see Cooper's Hawks and Great Horned Owls! I guess the grass is always greener, eh?