Thursday, 31 March 2011

Mystery Bird revealed

OK - had no time to pursue birds today, but I do have a few moments available so I'll go through last time's Mystery Bird.

Much of the bird is obscured by the rock that it is settled behind, and complicating things further, it also has its bill tucked away.
It appears to be dark brown overall with distinct streaking or heavy spotting on the breast. The parts we can see are pretty much concolourous and the eye appear to be open, and dark. There is no sign of any distinctive facial pattern visible.

So, is it a black oystercatcher? Well, a respectable 19% of the voters thought so. I think that the lack of matt black tones immediately rules that species out, and even at this angle one would expect to able to see something of that enormous carrot of a bill. True, juvenile oystercatchers will have dark eyes, but even very young birds are darker than our mystery bird.

So, how about Harlequin duck? The habitat looks right, and a female would certainly be brown. But, again, even at this angle elements of the face pattern would be discernible, as would the large white spot behind the eye. So I'm afraid its a no for the 19% who also chose this species.

Surfbird? Only one of you thought it might be. Assuming it's a winter plumage bird, as it clearly isn't a breeding plumage surfbird, I'd have thought that it simply isn't grey looking enough. Also, one wouldnt expect to see such heavy breast streaking on this species. 

So, that leaves black turnstone, which 57% of participants went with. This is a non-breeding adult, photographed at Jack Point, Nanaimo.
As always, please feel free to chime in with any other useful pointers I've failed to mention - or indeed anything that contradicts my reasoning!
Good luck with the duck...

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