Today's Mystery Birds for you to Identify

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This video is beautiful, so beautiful that you don't have to identify any of the birds captured on this video: you can just sit back and appreciate them. That said, I view IDing these birds as something fun to do, and a lot of my readers will agree.

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

Andrew Zuckerman is famous for photographing his subjects on a white background. These portraits remove every distracting element and force you to focus exclusively on every minute detail of the subject.

Zuckerman doesn't just photograph people. In fact, some of his most stunning work involves animals. His latest book focuses on birds -- yes, I am going to do my best to get my hands on it!

Review all mystery birds to date.

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thank for posting this! Did me good

By kim jennings (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

As with photos, I am totally blind to any media hosted by "unapproved" sites until I get home later this evening- John, Adrian, Paul...?

(of course, if you feel that our discourse might annoy "Annoyed" again... do it anyway!)

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

Wonderfull video Grrl.
David, there are at least 20 species here from all over the world.
I predict a long thread with a lot of discussion.
Is annoyed still with us?
The library awaits.... I may be quite a while.

there is a distinct neotropical bias in the bird species that appear in this video, although there are a few african species too.

If you watch the "Creature Behind the Scene" (the tortoise) video you can see how the photography against the white background is done.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

oh, there's more videos from Zuckerman that will appear here in the near future, so don't be spilling the beans.

Actually, Grrl, I counted 5 S. American species, 7 African species, 4 N. American sp, and 3 Australian sp.

To be fair, the owl and the Golden Eagle (large, dark brown, gold nape) could be from Eurasia instead, as could the guinea fowl. And I suppose the bird at the end occurs in S. America as well as up here.

Which makes 19, unless the young condor is a different species than the adult.

hmmm, who's going to be first up?

Paul, I disagree with the guineafowl- isn't this species a native of sub-Saharan Africa?

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

David, I actually counted the guinea fowl as African. I included the caveat because a) I wasn't sure which species it was and b) I know next to nothing about the ranges of most species, although I seem to recall that some of them make it into the Middle-east. It wouldn't surprise me if I'm wrong about that too. Same with the owl -- I think that's one of the African Eagle-owls, but I'm really not sure.

I especially liked the turaco.

Correct with the owl, although I make it 21 species (still assuming the juvenile and adult condors are the same)!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

Think I got them all now but might need some help on the one just before the African Grey...!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

I meant just after the Toucan but before the adult Condor... sorry!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

OK, I'll take the plunge- rip me apart if you will!

0:04 Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
0:15 Red-billed Curassow (Crax blumenbachii)
0:21 Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)
0:25 Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
0:28 Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)
0:33 Verreaux's Eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus)
0:44 Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata)
0:52 Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)
1:05 Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum)
1:10 Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
1:17 White-cheeked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis)
1:20 Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)+ Scarlet Macaw
1:21 Military Macaw (Ara militaris)
1:28 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
1:31 female Southern Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)
1:35 Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
1:43 juvenile Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)
1:50 Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)
1:58 Barred Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles bennettii)
2:05 Verreaux's Eagle-owl
2:11 Emuâs feet!
2:15 Grey Crowned Crane
2:20 Secretary Bird
2:30 adult Andean Condor
2:34 Congo African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

Just simply lovely!

From a rank amateur, was the first one an Osprey?

A thought while watching: although this is a high example, it feels true that anything and everything in our global ecosystem observed being itself is beautiful to our senses, perhaps due to our hardwiring developed over megayears of balance in that ecosystem. In fact, only our own works can be perceived as ugly (mountain top removal, for one).

By GrayGaffer (not verified) on 29 Jan 2010 #permalink

david: i agree with your IDs, except for a few (listed below). before i get into that, can you share what led you to ID the juvenile condor as Andean? (oh, and isn't that condor birdums a cutie?? sigh!)

2:11 .. i am almost certain that's the foot of the crowned crane that appears again at 2:15 -- emus (and all ratites) lack the hallux (the backward-pointing toe). this bird's feet are slender (unlike ratite feet), and its hallux is shortened and elevated, as you see in cranes and other wading birds.

2:20 .. rounded, uniformly dark feathers on that bird's back .. could that be a condor? i catch a brief glimpse of a pointed feather (tail?) of that bird flying at 2:22, which makes me wonder if instead, we are catching a fleeting glimpse of some species of cormorant? or maybe another look at that female ground hornbill?

2:26 .. secretary bird again.

and last but not least;

2:37 .. adult male kestrel .. American Kestrel? (i am unsure how to distinguish American from Common Kestrels and my field guides are currently hiding in one or more of 100 boxes, so you'll have to help me here!)

I mostly agree with David, except that I thought the Owlet-Nightjar was a Marbled Frogmouth and the Turaco was Yellow-billed. I missed the Hyacinth Macaw as I thought it was the Military in flight, so yes 21 species.

adrian: i also thought the owlet-nightjar was a frogmouth, but deferred to david since i had nothing to go on (field guides being hidden and all) other than a hunch as to the bird's identity (and i wasn't sure as to which species and have been too busy writing to spend the time trying to ID which species).

ooops (on forgetting to add in the male American Kestrel at the end- I had it on my list to make it 21 but forgot to type it in!)

I agree with the crane's feet at 2:11 but I do think that the brief shot of the "uniformly dark feathers on that bird's back" at 2:19 is not of the condor but actually the flight feathers of the Secretary Bird...

Adrian, I think you''re closer with the Yellow-billed than I was with the White-cheeked (or even a Knysa), the white on a Yellow-billed being more obviously horizontal across the face (all the greens exhibit the flash of red on the wing tips)...

and the one at 1:58 that gave me the most trouble (comments 12 and 13) is indeed a Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus)... some kind of obscure owlet-nightjar seemed good at the time!

the major differences I see between the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), which we certainly have here, and the one I'm more familiar with, the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) one finds in the UK, is that on male Americans, their secondaries are that deep blue-grey color (absent on female and tinnunculus) and in addition, on the American there are those two distinct black facial markings, one below the eyes and one behind the eye on the auriculars, whereas the Common only has a fainter one below the eyes...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Grrl, I decided upon a juvenile Andean Condor as opposed to the only other possibility, a juvenile California Condor, because the juvenile Calis are a mottled dark brown color whereas the Andean is distinctly a warmer brown with a uniformly black head and a brown ruff as we see here...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

okay, so are we agreed that these are the species included in this video?

0:04 Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
0:15 Red-billed Curassow (Crax blumenbachii)
0:21 Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)
0:25 Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
0:28 Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)
0:33 Verreaux's Eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus)
0:44 Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata)
0:52 Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)
1:05 Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum)
1:10 Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
1:17 Yellow-Billed Touraco (Tauraco macrorhynchus)
1:20 Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)+ Scarlet Macaw
1:21 Military Macaw (Ara militaris)
1:28 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
1:31 female Southern Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)
1:35 Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
1:43 juvenile Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)
1:50 Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)
1:58 Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus)
2:05 Verreaux's Eagle-owl
2:11 Grey Crowned Crane feet
2:15 Grey Crowned Crane
2:20 Secretary Bird
2:26 Secretary Bird
2:30 adult Andean Condor
2:34 Congo African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus)
2:37 adult male American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

I think so, but I am totally open to more experienced birders making adjustments...

Just to clarify some of my other decisions- I decided upon a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo as opposed to the very similar Yellow-crested because of the hint of yellow on the cheeks which I would expect to be more pronounced on a Yellow-crested as well as perhaps a little more oranginess to the crest- we can perhaps go a little further and declare this the nominate subpecies, a Greater Sulphur-crested (Cacatua galerita galerita) because the other three (Triton, Eleonora, and Fitzroy) would exhibit varying degrees of bluish skin around the eyes... this is perhaps a male because of the very dark eyes (females are red to brown) but the photography may have something to do with that...

I also called the Southern Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) a female precisely because only the female of that species (actually genus) has the blue throat patch (I eliminated the only other Ground-hornbill, the Northern or Abysssinian, because it would show a distinct casque)...

some may call the Verreaux's Eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus) a Milky Eagle-owl, but they are the same thing...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Sorry to throw a couple of changes at you, Grrl, but:

The turkey at 0:44 appears to be a regular old Wild Turkey. The Ocellated should have a bright blue head, and I can't find any of the expected eyespots on the tail.

The bird at 2:20 is definitely not a Secretary Bird -- the undertail coverts are dark. It's definitely not a cormorant -- as the bird takes off you can see long, unwebbed toes (possibly your pointed tail feathers?). I don't think it's the juvenile Condor (my first thought). That bird appears to be a paler brown above. Maybe an older immature? And I don't think it's a Southern Ground Hornbill, I think I can see the outer primaries just dipping into the frame as it disappears, and they should be white in SGHornbill. Beyond that, I'm stumped.

Of course, I missed the Scarlet Macaw both times (the first one I assumed that it must be the Scarlet Ibis that follows it) and the Hyacinth Macaw as well.

another distinction I made was with the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum) which can easily be confused with the Black Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina), especially since the "black' on the Black is often a slaty dark grey as can be the "grey" on the Grey! The main differentiator is the red cheek patch- absent on the Grey (as here in the movie) but present on the Black...

we might even venture to say that this is the nominate subspecies South African Crowned Crane (B. r. regulorum) because of the relatively small red patch obove the cheek which would be distinctly more obvious if this were it's northern realtive gibbericeps...

the northern Crested Crane (Balearica regulorum gibberceps) as photographed in Uganda

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Paul, I'm inclined to agree with you that it may well be a Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) as opposed to an Ocellated Turkey, but I am positive on the Southern Ground-hornbill- the white flight feathers are only ever seen when in flight or with wings extended- if you go frame-by-frame at 1:33/1:34 you can see the white unfold as the birds jumps up

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Oh wait, Paul, I thought you were referring to the Southern Ground-hornbill cameo at 1:31 so perhaps that instance is not in dispute...

you must be referring to the glimpse between 2:19 and 2:22... if you freeze the frame at 2:21 and compare to the back feathers in this photo of an adult Andean Condor, I think that it must be a preview of the one we can more easily identify a few seconds later... ?

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

I missed the fact it was posted as Ocellated, I'd written it down as Wild Turkey (honest). I thought the bird at 2:20 was the immature Condor in flight, the feathers don't look right for a Cormorant.

Adrian, my very first thought was indeed a Wild Turkey but I changed it to an Ocellated because the shimmering caught my eye, lulled me into some sort of reminiscence, and out of some inane subjective bias it reminded me of my favorite spotted cat, the filming of which in National Geographic's "Tropical Kingdom of Belize" was taken on the exped I led for them in '81...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Geographically, our 21 species would therefore be distributed (with some overlap) as follows:

North America- Ferruginous Hawk, Wild Turkey, American Kestrel, (Golden Eagle, Scarlet Macaw, Military Macaw)

South America- Andean Condor, Red-billed Curassow, Scarlet Macaw, Hyacinth Macaw, Military Macaw, Scarlet Ibis, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, (American Kestrel)

Europe- Golden Eagle

Africa- Verreaux's Eagle-owl, Secretary Bird, Vulturine Guineafowl, Grey Crowned Crane, Southern Ground-hornbill, Congo African Grey Parrot, Yellow-Billed Turaco, (Golden Eagle)

Asia- (Golden Eagle, Marbled Frogmouth)

Australia- Emu, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Marbled Frogmouth

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Thanks for an very entertaining Mystery Bird(s), Grrl.
I think that sums it all up, David, unless we have made a mistake along the line.

Hi David,
My small garden hosts at most 15 species even with feeders, so I'll be out doing my local patch as the weather is set for clear and sunny days this weekend.

Great! Unfortunately we have more snow today- another 3 or 4 inches already but I was able to get out my sunflower seeds in time for the morning rush: Blue Jays, Cardinals, Slate-colored Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, a Northen Flicker, a Red-belied Woodpecker, and a very small and cold Downy... if you have a Facebook account, you would probably be able to access my photos- I just recently added an album featuring photos by Bob Steele that shows a part of my own backyard "list"

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

I can't compete with that list. Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Thrushes and Finches will be all I see on the patch. Hopefully some migrant thrushes will put in an appearance.

David, I was referring to the bird at 2:20 as a mystery -- the earlier hornbill is clearly id'd correctly. And I don't see adult Condor as the solution to the bird at 2:20. There should be white visible in the wings as the bird takes off -- on the top of the secondaries for Andean and on the wing linings for Cali. I don't see any white in either spot. That's why I thought this might be an older immature. (Probably Andean simply because getting ahold of California Condors to do this with would, I imagine, be pretty difficult.)

I just want to point out that the male American Kestrel is not necessarily an adult. It has non-juvenile plumage, certainly, but (at least in the Bay Area of California) individuals will often molt and replace their body feathers the same here that they were born, sometimes as early as Septmeber 1st of that year, making it difficult to accurately age them (the males, at least, as aging females doesn't rely on body feathers).