ok folks, needing bird guesses

dirtgirl(So. Illinois)June 6, 2006

If I were a dyed in the wool birder, today would be a lifelist day. But trouble is, I don't know what I have here.

But I know I've never seen them or heard them (when I was aware of it anyway) in my life so that has me happily flipping through my books and looking for a lead.

It was late afternoon when I first heard this weird song, and when I spotted the chorister I was like, "what the...?" Of course, by the time I drove the 6 miles back home and fetched field guide and glasses, and then furiously drove back to the place the little suckers were still there but barely visible in the fading light and within a few minutes were off to roost, leaving me with nothing but a bunch of confused and snorting deer. The deer, which I had spooked when coming back into the field, had been following me all around the place as I darted this way and that every time I heard yet another 'pink'. I guess it's like the antelope and the lion...they can't be caught by surprise if they keep you in sight so the whole bunch just nervously tailed me for the last 15 minutes.

Ok, enough about the deer, I'm here about some birds, right?

Here is my best attempt at a description.

Birds are considerably larger than sparrows, maybe towhee sized.

I could not for the life of me get a decent up close look at them, but I did get a good feel for their behavior which will have to do until I can add some stripes or wing bars or eye rings or what have you. Coloration is light tan brown or a mix of browns...not a good enough look to pick out field markings , with one exception: tail, which is conspicuously long in relation to the body,appears rather narrow and has white sides or ends which are highly visible.

This bird, when perched, is much like a redstart in that it fans this tail and presents the white patches, and while doing this bobs and dips both body and tail as if in display. All the birds I saw were identical...if there were females present they did not differ in coloration enough for me to notice. Just tons and tons of tail fanning and dipping going on.

The voice is a melodious, almost warbler-like series of notes, with a loud, metallic 'pink' note when in close proximity to others of its kind.

THe area in which these birds are currently visible is a no-till corn field, with lots of stalks and debris present. It is borderd by wooded fencerows and 30 acres of hardwoods and rocky stream, although I saw them mainly out in the open field among the stalks. THese birds seem to prefer perching from the tops of corn stalks and singing and displaying.

Flight pattern reminds me of a woodpecker or perhaps a goldfinch in that it is undulating in long, lazy dips. When I gave the "spish spish" bird-with-a-snake-under-its-nest call, the reaction was immediate and two birds circled me (and the damn sun was squarely in my eyes and it didn't gain me a thing other than temporary blindness)

That's it for now...we will be in that same field over the next few days and my bookd and glasses are stashed behind the truck seat just WAITING ....

If you have and guesses, now's the time.

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loris(Z6 NJ)


Is it a Northern Mockingbird?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 7:47AM
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The location and tail description make me think Eastern Kingbird, but they would be black rather than light brown, and the white breast probably would have stood out. I don't know anything about their flight pattern.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 9:28AM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

I am sorry...I had no sooner powered down for the night when I realized that I had not listed the birds I had ruled out as possible suspects:

Here are the 'definitely nots':
not a mockingbird not a kingbird not a great-crested flycatcher or any of the pewees,
not a shrike not a towhee

I am trying to find out more about longspurs and larks and see if any of those are candidates. My luck, these birds are on their way through like the herd of bobolinks I saw a few weeks ago and won't be there today...or tomorrow....

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 12:27PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hey Dirtgirl,
I'm going through my Peterson's, to help me think of which bird it is, and I'm wondering about an immature shrike. They are brown with white edges to their tails. They have a thrasher-type song. (Wasn't a thrasher, was it?)
I was going to suggest vireo or one of the thrushes, but they don't have the white edges to their tails. (Do you mean along the sides or the bottom?)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 3:03PM
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i dont have a clue! those little brown,etc warblers always have me stumped.

Here is a link that might be useful: ;lots to look through

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 1:17AM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

I have at lasat solved my own mystery. Went back out there yesterday afternoon with guide in one hand and binocs in the other, and lo and behold there they were.
THEY ARE............................................
...........lark sparrows.
I initially thought I was dealing with a bigger bird, but that's what they are. Oddly enough, the first bird I spotted when approaching the area was a cedar waxwing, and when it took off I realized that their tail and flight are rather similar.
But I still have no familiarity with this bird at all. Of course, if there's a group of birds that needs my brushing up on, it would have to be the sparrows, followed immediately by the shorebirds and then the warblers.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 12:17PM
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