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large female finch with a mask?


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#1 mschelly

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:45 PM

Sorry, I have no photo, just a verbal description:
I am in PA. About a week ago, in the tree near our feeder, a large female house finch (brown and white pattern, no other obvious colors), but since it was so large (say 25% larger than a female house finch, about like an adult male cardinal or blue jay) I put the binocs to it and saw that the eye had a black mask. The mask had no "strap" - the black area did not extend back from the eye into the cheek area. It was harder to see, but it seemed to extend over the bill. There was no bib, no beard, no spot on the chest, no black stripes. I could not see the tail.
I looked in my field guide and could not find a match. I tried What Bird Search to no avail. What could this be? Some transitional form? A morph? A variant?
Recap:
- female house finch color pattern and shape
- larger than female house finch, cardinal or jay size
- black mask with no strap
- no other discerning markings
Help?

#2 creeker

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:51 PM

Maybe a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak?
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#3 psweet

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:51 PM

Possibly a young Cedar Waxwing?

#4 mschelly

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 06:16 PM

yes to both?
Well, the body of the female rose-breasted grosbeak + the eye mask of the juvie cedar waxwing would be pretty close to perfect.
So, searching under these two I found a new birding ID site. Here is the page for the juvie waxwing: http://birding.about...ification_3.htm.
Reading the features, it seems the body color could be slightly more striped like the female grosbeak, and I suppose in mid-summer the eye mask could be transforming from a partial mask to a full mask.
So, unless someone else has another idea, I think I'll go with a "teenage" (older juvie) cedar waxwing transitioning into an adult.
THANKS!

#5 BarnSwallow

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:31 PM

Sounds like a reasonable probability!

#6 mschelly

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 09:26 PM

However, I just read that waxwings mate or rear their young in the summer, so would a young waxwing be a "teenie" at this time of year? or do they take more than a year to mature?

#7 BarnSwallow

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 11:08 PM

It would be a juvenile from this year - a month or 6 weeks old, would be my guess.




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