[Mystery bird] Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus, photographed at Sabine Woods and Sabine Pass area, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 28 April 2008 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/250s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
Every birder has a “trigger” bird, and most of us have several. One of mine was a bright male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, perched high in a fruiting elm one May day in southeast Nebraska — and identified with recourse to Arthur Singer’s plates in the World Book [Birds of the World. This one’s a beauty, showing all the plumage characters and, more importantly, all of the structural features we need to identify him.
If we imagine away those shocking colors, we can focus on the characteristics of shape that hold true across the age- and sex-classes of this species: the short tail, fat body, huge head, and truly “gros” beak.
This bird is obviously a male, but how old is it? Rose-breasted and Black-headed Grosbeaks take two years to attain full adult plumage; in their first year, they show a clear contrast between retained juvenile flight feathers and new adult feathers. This bird’s wing, what we can see of it, at least, is uniformly glossy black, making it a bird at least two years old.