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Warbler ID help needed

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Bob Coutant, May 18, 2005.

  1. The spruce trees next to my house have been alive with small birds this week. Those present include goldfinches, olive sided flycatchers, blackburnian warblers, myrtle warblers, and these two that I’ve been unable to identify. I tried Roger Tory Peterson, Sibley, and the Audubon Society books to no avail. The images are not very good quality (handheld @~250mm and 20 yards), but I’m hoping someone can help identify these two (warblers?).

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


  2. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    theses are a tad small images :>))

    I have no idea from one bird to another. I know and Egret and a GBH, oh and yeah an osprey :>)))))

    Can ya post a bit bigger.
  3. Bob,

    The top one sure looks to me like a male goldfinch from an odd angle, especially since you said there were others there. The beak, body, and wing colors all look right. We have seen many flying around here also.

    The bottom one might be a female goldfinch, but I can't be sure since there is not a lot to work with in that view. Sibley (page 535 in mine) shows how the females transition from brown to some yellow this time of year, and this one might be in between.

    One of the members, Janet Zinn, is very good at bird ID's. If she does not add a reply, you might use the PM button to ask her directly.

    The other Ohio Bob
  4. Gale/Bob: Thanks for looking.

    Sorry about the size, but these are already 100% crops. These are SMALL birds – compare their body width to the width of one of the spruce needle clusters. Add to that the fact that they were at least 40-45 ft. up and I had to stand a “measured” 45 ft from the base of the tree (the old axiom “There’s no lens long enough for a birder.”)

    Neither of these is an American goldfinch – note the stripped breast of the second one. The first one does look like the lesser goldfinch, but that bird is not found east of the Mississippi. It also resembles one of the several blue-winged X golden-winged hybrid warblers, but that group of hybrids can resemble almost anything.

    Oh well… I guess that’s another facet of the challenge of shooting birds.
  5. Bob, the first one is definitely an American Goldfinch. Look at the bill--its pink, and large, not at all a warbler bill. You can even see a bit of the white wingbar. No doubts there.

    The second one is odd...it could be a Pine Siskin, but it seems too yellow, and seems to have a black cap like a Goldfinch. But, as you note, a Goldfinch wouldn't have stripes. So I'm not really sure. Its odd! There are a couple of warbler possibilities that have a black cap and flank stripes---such as Townsend's, but that doesn't seem likely. Do you have any other shots of that bird at all?
  6. Okay, I've got seperate confirmation on the second one from the president of our bird club...its a Cape May Warbler, which was my first thought. Its a really hard angle but the yellow belly and strong flank streaking, coupled with the black cap, make the match.

    thanks for the "quiz"!
  7. Janet:

    Thanks for your quick response.

    I'm glad you were able to identify the second one - the only other shot I have of it is really fuzzy, with the bird partially hidden by a spruce branch. I considered the Cape May Warbler, but the picture in Sibley was just a little different. I've never been very good with warbler ID's -- I guess I need as much practice with them as I do with photography.

    Thanks again!
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