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Bird Brain

Flycatcher??

23 posts in this topic

I believe this is a Black Phoebe, perhaps imm. or female.  I think it is too dark, overall for Wood pewee.

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Might just be me, but it actually strikes me as a Western Bluebird.

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My first thought was Western Bluebird too.

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I thought of Western Bluebird, as well as a few other possibles, but this is an adult bird....no gape, as a fledgling anything would have. I've seen lots of fledgling and juvenile W Bluebirds, and this doesn't match any I've ever seen. I'm still thinking flycatcher sp., but I'm not convinced it's a Black Phoebe.

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27 minutes ago, Colorado Owl said:

What is making everyone say Western Bluebird? 

It has a blueish overall color and if you look closely it also has a reddish shoulder. Could this bird be melanistic?

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I wouldn't depend on the blue in this case.  Black/blue could be an artifact of the photo.  Still looks like an imm. or female Black Phoebe to me.  I don't see a Bluebird's beak here.

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The wings are far too long and the head is much rounder than a normal Black Phoebe - but both are spot on for a bluebird.

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I see both species suggested pretty much daily. Western Bluebird for me. Blue often appears black under different lighting conditions.

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So, everyone saying Western Bluebird........are you meaning a juvenile? If so, then why is there no gape as would be expected on a juvie? And I would also expect a juvie to be very spotted...I've seen dozens of them over the past 10-12 years. There were adult Bluebirds that I saw app. 100-200 yards from where I saw the above bird, but none in the immediate area.

There were two of these birds, but I was only able to get a photo of this one. They were precise in flight, not clumsy like I would expect a juvie to be. I saw this one fly to another tree and light in the shade. Its color was more brown than is showing in the photos above, which were in sunlight. Both of them screamed (not literally) Flycatcher/Peewee/Phoebe in flight pattern, posture, and movement.

I heard birds sounds, but couldn't be sure it was from the bird in question, as we were in a wooded area and there were lots of birds around, chirping and singing. (Not connected to the bird above, but I saw and got photos of a Bewick's Wren that really put on a good show, singing and fluttering!!) The closest sounds I've found online to what I heard around me were Hammond's, Dusky, and/or Gray Flycatchers, BUT, as I stated above, I don't know if those sounds were coming from the above bird or its partner.

I can't let go of flycatcher sp., and I can't yet wrap my mind around Bluebird. I very much appreciate everyone's input, and hope for more from y'all and others. I would really like to know what it is!

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How about melanistic/dark morph Vermillion Flycatcher. I agree that the tail and other features do not match up with Black Phoebe, but I am still not seeing this as a Western Bluebird. How can the brown be an ¨artifact of light,¨? The background is blue, and the OP said it looked grayish-brown even when the lighting was decent. 

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12 minutes ago, Colorado Owl said:

How about melanistic/dark morph Vermillion Flycatcher. I agree that the tail and other features do not match up with Black Phoebe, but I am still not seeing this as a Western Bluebird. How can the brown be an ¨artifact of light,¨? The background is blue, and the OP said it looked grayish-brown even when the lighting was decent. 

That too should also have a crested appearance, and once again the wings of this bird are far longer than a Vermilion's.

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Another thing is that Vermillion is rare in northern California, especially north of Sacramento. So I'm also going to say Western Bluebird. It may not be one necessarily, but I don't think there is much other species it could be. Females Western Bluebirds can get quite drab, so that would make sense.

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Body proportions fit WEBL as well.

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OK, I guess Western Bluebird it is. I've never seen one this dark before, but I'll go with the majority. Thanks to all of y'all for your input.

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