Friday, December 7, 2007

David Sibley and the "mystery" bird

David Sibley, author of the renowned Sibley Guides and a premier authority on bird identification, has weighed in on his blog on our "mystery bird" of last September, captured by BirdCam.

To recall, here's the picture BirdCam took (we never saw the bird):

Readers variously idenitifed the bird as a Common Redstart (European species almost never heard of in North America); a Red-Breasted Nuthatch; a Boreal Chickadee; or a morph Carolina Chickadee.

The consensus now is that this is a Carolina Chickadee, and through a trick of timing and light, it has been captured with its head tilted almost 90 degrees to the right, looking up at the sky (perhaps watching for predators).

David goes through this in some detail in his post, and agrees with the Carolina Chickadee ID. He also talks about the pitfalls of snap identification, writing: "This story demonstrates that there are nearly infinite possibilities for misidentification, and shows how one misleading glimpse can trigger assumptions that set us firmly onto the wrong path."

Many thanks to David for taking the time and sharing his expertise.

- W &L

PETER KAESTNER UPDATE: Our friend Peter K has added 7 more birds to his life list since we last checked, and now is at 8.141. Check it out here.


Chris W said...

I would certainly agree with Carolina Chickadee. I would also point out that the head shape just doesn't look right for a bird in this position. David Sibely does an excellent job of going through the ID marks.

Nervous Birds said...

Photoshop is an excellent tool for bird identification. What an interesting way to examine this photograph. It all makes sense now.

Hope all is well Bird Couple.