Checklist S25474521

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Owner Jacob Socolar

Traveling
  • 1
  • 2 km
Comments

Observations

  1. Number observed: 50
  2. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Male: green head, long tail, etc.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male 1
    Female
    Sex Unknown
  3. Number observed: 4
  4. Number observed: 2
  5. Number observed: 5
  6. Number observed: 2
  7. Number observed: 1
  8. Number observed: 1
  9. Number observed: 2
  10. Number observed: 2
  11. Number observed: 3
  12. Number observed: 2
  13. Number observed: 1
  14. Number observed: 1

    Comments: These details are mostly pasted from an NJBRC form. eBird is throwing the error that the details exceed the 4000 byte maximum for written comments. Thus, I am splitting the comments between Say's Phoebe (1), Blue Jay (2), American Crow (3), and Crow sp (4), all in this checklist.

    Description:

    General behavior:
    Spent the entire observation perched on an interpretive sign that was just a bit taller than surrounding grass. Turned around 2-3 times during observation. Pumped tail repeatedly, perhaps not quite as deliberate as the slow, controlled pumping of an Eastern Phoebe, but stiff breeze may have affected that. Appeared alert and healthy. Did not attempt to forage during observation. Still perched on sign when I left to get a camera.

    General appearance:
    Flycatcher shape with upright posture and medium bill. Initially viewed dorsally; struck me as a Phoebe (tail pumping), but back was paler than typical Eastern, contrasting with wings and especially with long and very dark tail. Also some dark in the head/face area, but I found myself uncertain afterwards whether this was restricted to the face, or extended to the forehead and cap. Body seemed long for Eastern, and slender but sturdily built.

    Underparts:
    Distinct salmon wash from lower breast through undertail coverts. On the dull side for Say's Phoebe but within the range of variation. Sufficiently pink that I noticed the color when I glimpsed the undertail coverts as the bird faced away, but not so pink that I was immediately positive, based solely on the a brief glimpse of the color, that the bird absolutely had to be a Say’s. Until the bird turned around, I considered my glimpse of the color to be highly suggestive but not definitive, though additional marks had me fairly convinced that the bird was a Say’s. Diagnostic salmon underparts obvious once bird turned around. Salmon wash transitioned to smudgy gray breast similar in color to mantle or perhaps a bit paler. Transition was not high-contrast, with the salmon tones palest on the lower breast (compared to belly and vent); nevertheless, the grayer tones of the breast came in fairly abruptly (but without high contrast). Salmon tones reached slightly higher in the center of the breast/belly than along the flanks, coming to a fuzzy point on the lower breast. Because the bird was perched on a sign, the tail was not seen well from below.
    Overall underpart pattern recalled Grayish Saltator (with which I am very familiar); but breast was substantially paler, and salmon was both paler/less red and more extensive (less restricted to vent) then on typical Grayish Saltator at Iquitos, Peru.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 1
  15. Number observed: 10

    Comments: Say's phoebe, continued
    Upperparts:
    Fairly pale gray mantle extending up to nape, and around the sides of the neck, darker on the cap/forehead/face. Tail very dark and contrasting with back color. Upper tail viewed folded, and so impression of tail color/pattern may reflect only central retrices. Wings darker than back. Orangey-buff edging to coverts created the impression of 2 diffuse wing bars. Orangey-buff color of edging appeared less pink (more buff) than underparts. I did not notice a molt limit in the coverts (i.e. grayer-edged 1st basic feathers along part of the tract), but I am not sure that I would have noticed this.

    Vocalizations:
    Silent during observation.

    Points in my observation notes that differ from Say’s Phoebe:
    1) My memory of the bird was of a somewhat dark forehead and cap, contrasting more with the paler neck/back, and less with the dark face than seems typical for Say’s Phoebe. I think it possible that this feature was misremembered; at the same time I have found a minority of photos that convey a similar impression to my recollection, e.g.
    http://res-3.cloudinary.com/ebirdr/image/upload/3329-says-phoebe.jpg
    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Says-Phoebe.jpg
    NOTE: I searched for these photos after writing down my notes.

    2) I explicitly noted extensive buffy edging in the wings, and I focused on this feature during the observation because I surmised it would be important in aging the bird and also because it looked unfamiliar to me (which makes sense as I have not seen juvenile Say’s Phoebe since 2011 at least). However, despite focusing on this feature, I did not notice a molt limit. My understanding now is that at least a few of the coverts should be replaced in the first pre-basic molt. My best guess is that I simply failed to notice this, focusing the striking (to me) presence of buff edging in the coverts and failing to notice where the edging was absent.

  16. Number observed: 10

    Comments: Say's Phoebe, continued:
    Name the species you consider ID contenders; explain how you
    eliminated each.

    Eastern Phoebe:
    This species is similar in general structure and plumage and shares the tail-pumping behavior. It is eliminated by salmon tones underneath (as opposed to yellowish) and by orangeish-buff edging in wing coverts. Additional supporting points against Eastern include the paler gray back and long dark tail, as well as overall impression of large size and slender-but-sturdy build. These subtler points, in combination, led me to focus heavily on this bird when I initially saw it (facing away) and before the underparts were visible, and for this reason I am confident that these impressions were not written into my mind purely after the fact of identifying the bird as a Say’s Phoebe. One major difference between Eastern and Say's Phoebes was not noted (one way or the other) during the observation: the low-contrast, gray throat of Say's (contrastingly pale on Eastern).
    At least one Eastern Phoebe was repeatedly observed (and heard once) nearby (closer the parking lot), both before and after the observation of the Say’s. Seemed dumpier, smaller, darker above, and dull yellowish rather than salmon underneath.

    Other Flycatchers:
    Compared to Empixonax: too large and elongate; upperparts cold gray; underparts gray and pale salmon; buffy wing-bars far less distinct than on some juvenile empids; tail to large/long; no hint of yellow tones anywhere; no hint of eye-ring; dark face.
    Compared to Eastern Kingbird: too small; bill much too small; upperparts showed high contrast between back and tail; wings darker than back; little contrast between back and upper breast; lower breast pale salmon.
    Compared to yellow-bellied Kingbirds: less robust; bill too small; pale salmon instead of yellow on lower underparts; orangey-buff wing edging.
    Compared to Contopus: back paler and grayer (less brown); bill all dark; throat/upper breast similar color to face/back; Head less peaked; lower underparts pale salmon from upper belly/lower breast through the under-tail coverts; no hint of ‘vested’ appearance.

    Other:
    Eastern Bluebirds are numerous at the site and differ in many respects. Bluebirds have: head too big and round, overall fatter with less tail; tail tinged blue and not blackish; rusty underparts extend too high up the breast and not down the belly to the undertail coverts; upperparts browner, less gray; wings tinged bluish, lack extensive edging on coverts; pale eye-ring instead of dark face; etc etc etc.

  17. crow sp.

    Number observed: 15

    Comments: Say's Phoebe, continued:

    Indicate your prior experience with this and similar species:
    I have seen Say’s Phoebe numerous times in western N. America, but never in fall and never in the East. eBird indicates that my most recent sighting was in Jun 2014 in western Montana.
    Eastern Phoebe is a very familiar bird, and I am familiar with plumage variation in this species. However, I have less experience with this species in the fall, because I have spent most of August-November in South America for each of the past several years, since 2012.

    What books, illustrations, and advice did you consult? When?
    Was this report written from notes made during, or after, the observation?
    No notes were made during the observation, as I lacked a notebook. I watched the bird for a couple of minutes (I am unable to be more precise) and then left the bird to run home for a notebook/camera, thinking that the bird would likely be re-found. Having carefully reviewed my mental notes, I briefly consulted the Sibley Guide to the Birds as well as the first 5-10 images in a Google image search for “juvenile Say’s Phoebe” to check that the buffy wing coverts were ok for that ID prior to making a quick post to jerseybirds (which bounced due to a typo in the email address). I then spent ~2 hours attempting to relocate the bird, without success. After this, I briefly consulted Sibley again, and noticed that the juvenile plumage should not persist this late in fall. I then consulted the BNA account for Say’s Phoebe, and looked more extensively at images online searching (unsuccessfully) for images of fall birds that retained extensive buffy edgings on the wing coverts.
    Regrettably, all notes were written after consulting references as described above. However, I took extra care to mentally formulate my notes as I walked back to my car immediately after seeing the bird, and I am confident that they have not been colored by subsequent consultation of references. I note above two areas where my mental notes were at variance with what I subsequently learned from consulting references; in my opinion, neither is fatal to the ID as Say’s Phoebe.
    After reporting the sighting to jerseybirds, I received comments from Rick Wright to the effect that 1st year birds often retain half or more of the juvenile greater coverts.

  18. Carolina/Black-capped Chickadee

    Number observed: 2
  19. Number observed: 4
  20. Number observed: 1
  21. Number observed: 1
  22. Number observed: 25
  23. Number observed: 1
  24. Number observed: 150

    Comments: Conservative estimate of huge flocks feeding in goldenrod.

  25. Number observed: 3
  26. Number observed: 1
    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 1
  27. Number observed: 10
  28. Number observed: 4
  29. Number observed: 50

    Comments: Conservative estimate of very large number of birds.

  30. Number observed: 1
  31. Number observed: 2
  32. blackbird sp.

    Number observed: 10

    Comments: Either rustys or red-wings; one group very distant, another group in flight somewhat distant.

  33. Number observed: 1
  34. Number observed: 5
  35. Number observed: 35
  36. Number observed: 1