[Mystery bird] Adult female Indigo Bunting, Passerina (Guiraca) cyanea, photographed at Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, Brazoria County, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 27 April 2010 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/350s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
A bird this unremarkable-looking doesn't deserve to be identified, but I'll take a crack anyway by dropping Duke Ellington's and Peter Gabriel's names.
A chip on the old block.
Well, gosh, the clues have me clueless.
It's got a seed-eater sort of beak, dark legs. It's also got a fairly short tail, I think, and shortish primary feathers that don't go far down the tail. It looks sort of chunky and sparrowish, but maybe not?
I'm thinking some sort of bunting, a female varied, maybe? But I'm well-prepared to be completely wrong. The hint of blue
OOps! I was going to say that the hint of blue on the upper front wings confused me a bit.
you are doing extremely well on this bird, bardiac. look over those North American buntings closely. oh, and the hint of blue IS a hint!
Hey, Bardiac, a useful clue for these Passerinas, at least in the SW -- Varied's have a distinctly curved culmen (that's the upper ridge of the bill), forming a more rounded appearing bill.
Okay Bardiac, a clue to my clue: Ellington and Gabriel each wrote a song whose title describes the bird.
Thanks, Carel! That helps. So, by looking at the song lists, I'm guessing a female indigo bunting?
I'm at the office (and not where my bird books are), so can you help me see the field marks that would identify this as an Indigo Bunting rather than another, please?
Hi, Bardiac, obviously the brown color with a hint of blue rules out Painted Bunting. The straight culmen and wing bars rule out female Varied Bunting. So we're left with Indigo and Lazuli. At first glance, the wing bars might suggest Lazuli, but it turns out that Indigo females have those too. Instead, we look to the undersides. On Lazuli, these are plain, fairly bright buff, with no streaking. Indigo's are grayer, with very fine streaking (basically dark feather shafts). This bird does show the streaking, without a brighter background, so it's an Indigo.
I suppose to be thorough, we should note that the bill is too small and the wing bars too narrow for Blue Grosbeak.
Thanks, psweet! That helps me learn :)
A female Lazuli's wingbars are much bolder, too.