2birdfeature #4

20130719-DSCN1290 Today's 2birdfeature presents a challenge. Every birder in the history of the world wrestles with an ID from time to time. Today is my day. I gave myself 10 minutes to ID this sparrow species above and I have come to no sure conclusion. Have a closer look.


Most importantly, I know the bird is a juvenile. Two things tell me this right away. Have a look at the base of the bill. See that little yellow fleshy bit? That is a relic of being a baby. It disappears gradually and is then covered over by feathers. Secondly, the condition and coloration of the feathers tell me that the bird is young. Possibly only a week or two post-fledge.

What else do I know about the bird to make me assume sparrow species? Bill shape. It's not deep enough for a finch bill and not skinny enough for the bill of a vireo or thrush. Plus sparrow species are very numerous and populous in Washington, USA.

If you think you know what this little bird is, please venture a guess! I haven't the time to spend on thoroughly identifying him or her.

The second species today is a bit easier to ID.




Blackish Oystercatchers are visually striking shorebirds with a very loud call and a propensity to scuttle along the rocks searching for mussels, limpets and barnacles to eat. They nest on bare rocks or tiny depressions in the sand that they scrape. Usually, oystercatchers position their nests as close to the high-water mark as the tide permits. Oystercatchers often have a low success rate hatching chicks because of their very exposed nests. If they get up to feed, gulls and mammals capitalize on the opportunity to snack on their eggs. Also, it would be very easy to step on their eggs if one was not being careful, as is the case for many shorebirds.

I took the following photos on a particularly foggy morning so the color and lighting is off. I hope you enjoy this beautiful bird anyway! See you this weekend!