Mystery Bird: Pink-breasted Lark, Mirafra poecilosterna

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[Mystery bird] Pink-breasted Lark, Mirafra poecilosterna, photographed near the Pangani River Camp, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, 13 January 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D300, 600 mm VR lens, ISO 800, 1/1600 sec, f/7.1, Exposure compensation 0..

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

HINT 1: this species is in the Alaudidae family and was first described by a German.
HINT 2: anagram of scientific name included in comment thread below.

Review all mystery birds to date.

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Noone yet? With that bill, I'll venture that it's probably a thrush, but that's as far as I can go.

OK, I'm going for a Green/Brownbul or a Cisticola Warbler. The problem I have with this is the ginger on the lores and supercilium, I don't know of a bird with this feature.

We don't seem to be getting very far with this. There is little on the web in the way of pictures to help. So, strong bill, rufous face, reddish/brown eye, no contrast between back, wings and tail, pinkish legs. The nearest I can find are Red-faced Cisticola, which should have a graduated tail with black and pale tips, or Northern Brownbul and its close relative Terrestrial Brownbul. After that I'm lost.

Coming in late to this today after [literally] working in the fields and initially did indeed feel this was from the Cisticolidae although I'm not convinced about the comparative bill shapes... but if so, I am tending towards a lazy stone's-throw away from the species thus far suggested

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 20 Mar 2010 #permalink

Hello David, Sorry I don't get the "lazy stone's-throw" clue (unless it's a little red rooster), but it is after midnight here! Your picture shows a buffish lores and super. so I still can't understand the reddish on this bird.

Adrian,

I was referring to the Lazy or Rock-loving Cisticola (Cisticola aberrans) which is sometimes split into two species: Lazy Cisticola (C. aberrans) in the southern part of its range and Rock-loving Cisticola (C. emini) further north... perhaps there is a subspecies/geographical difference that would address your "reddishness"...

then again, the Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens) looks close also...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 20 Mar 2010 #permalink

Hello David, my Birds of Kenya says that aberrans ssp teitensis is known from four old specimens and a few sight records from SE Kenya and NE Tanzania. ssp emini from three specimens collected "years ago" near Mwanza and S Lake Victoria. It's not even illustrated, but should have a rufous cap. It's late here now and I can't see the keys, so I'll continue this in the morning. Good night.

I confess, I'm nowhere near identifying this one. I've dismissed Cisticolas as the similar birds all have a graduated tail. Both Terrestrial and Northern Brownbuls have grey feet (darker in Northern). This appears to be a juvenile/1st winter as coverts and tertials don't look to be fully grown yet, so if I must pick one I'll go for immature Terrestrial Brownbul as this should have flesh-coloured legs, although the Kenya book says that imm. bare parts not fully recorded.

Having discussed this with Grrl, I just want to point out that a faecal stripier moron can become a bleached ascending robin.

I had dismissed Alaudidae as this bird is very plain for a Mirafra.
Quote; "A slender pipit-like lark that commonly perches in trees. Face pale rufous to pinkish cinnamon, with variable mottling of same colour on breast and sides. Crown dark grey with fine dusky streaks; back and wings brownish grey mottled with dusky. Brown wings and tail have narrow pale edgings but show no rufous. No white in tail. Eyes and bill brown; feet pale pinish flesh."
So if as Bob says this is bleached I suppose that's why I missed this.

Oops. That should read "pinkish" not wooden.
From the clues an "ascending" would be a Lark, "Robin" refers to the breast colour and the "Faecal stripier moron" to the latin name Mirafra poecilosterna I presume. That makes it a Pink-breasted Lark.
I wouldn't have got that without the clues, thanks.