Mystery Bird: Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

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[Mystery bird] Female Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, photographed at Bodega Bay, California. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Joseph Kennedy, 23 December 2007 [larger view].

Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/90s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

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Hello Grrl,

Love the blog site; I've been wondering how does science become part of one's cultural daily existence. I'm not a scientist but I try to instill in my son a love for things and phenomena science.

I would venture to say there's something finchlike about the bird shown. I say it belongs to the finch family.

Wow! this was difficult for this Brit. After a lot of study and scanning all my Nearctic books the nearest I can come is female Brewer's Blackbird, the brown eyes the only reason I can give for this ID.

I agree Adrian, no doubt... female Brewer's Blackbirds (Euphagus cyanocephalus) are a dull grey-brown, darkest on the wings and tail, with a dark eye, thin and pointed bill; immature birds look like washed out, lighter-brown versions of the females, so the photo above is of a female... a cold one...!

One of my favorite birding spots is Bodega Bay. Definitely a female Brewer's Blackbird. The way the brownishness in front turns to a more slatey grey in the primaries and tail is the fieldmark I look for. There's also the short version of the icterid bill.

By Selasphorus (not verified) on 12 Oct 2009 #permalink

No quibbles with the ID, but what's up with the pale edging on the primaries? Is this an individual issue, a geographic one, or a seasonal one? We have Brewer's around here in the summer, but we don't see them in December.

i cannot answer your question, psweet, although i have sent email to the photographer -- hopefully, he will answer in a timely fashion (he's moving house, so is somewhat distracted). after i hear from him, i will be sure to post his comments.