Bird identification

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by taf2002, May 3, 2010.

  1. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    I have 2 bird feeders in my garden which is right outside my glass patio room so i can watch the birds coming & going. This year we have a flock (5 or 6 birds) that I can't identify even though I have googled them several different ways.

    This bird is black/dark brown all over but it has a bright yellow beak, both top & bottom beak is yellow & their feet & legs are reddish like doves. Its head & back are glossy, irridescent black & its underside is a very dark brown. It has no markings of any other color. Its head is smooth with no ruff & it has a stubby short tail.

    It looks exactly like an American Crow in looks & size but they don't have a yellow beak or reddish legs & feet. It's driving me crazy not to be able to figure this out.

    BTW, I'm in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas but I've looked into Canadian & Mexican birds too. Does anyone know what these birds could be?
     
  2. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

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    Could it be a gackle? I was just in San Antonio and we saw zillions of them. They have a lot of personality.
     
  3. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that grackles have yellow beaks or reddish legs/feet. At least the ones here in Illinois don't.
     
  4. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    Gackles have longer tails & no yellow beak. But thanks.
     
  5. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    A european starling, maybe? They're a big smaller but ubiquitous here.
     
  6. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    After a bit of searching, I was just going to suggest a starling as well -- they have the right beak and leg color and irridescence and short tail, but they are much smaller than crows.
     
  7. BittyBug

    BittyBug Kiteless

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    Since you seem to like birds, you would probably enjoy Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide to North American Birds. In my younger days, I used to spend hours pouring over it to try to ID visitors to the feeder. :)
     
  8. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    I thought starlings were a possibility too but don't starlings always have little white spots down their sides? My birds have no markings at all. But your picture looks just like my birds otherwise. Maybe European Starlings have lost their markings due to a difference in diet here.

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions.
     
  9. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

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  10. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    According to this site it is a bit seasonal -- the white spots are most evident in the fall (which is also when the yellow bill color is least evident).
     
  11. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

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    Not always. They usually lose them by spring.

    See, the size of American crow confused me. I don't think a starling is even close to its size. They're around the size of American robin.
     
  12. Lorac

    Lorac Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you could keep a camera close at hand so that next time you see them on the feeders you can take a photo and post it here? They do sound like starlings but the size stated is throwing me as well!!
     
  13. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    I strongly second this. If you are interested in birds, this is the best way to go! Entirely worth the investment and the only way to really get to be able to identify birds.

    I like the Peterson Guide best, but there are others, such as Sibley's, but a field guide is the best bet for identifying birds, even if you never leave your own backyard.
     
  14. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    I'm glad to see there are others here who love birds too! I'm a nature girl and usually end up spending most of my time off from work/school outside in the gardens and observing the birdies (not so much the squirrels though, since they steal my tomatoes and strawberries!) I find that if you watch them long enough you'll notice that they all have different personalities (even the same birds of one species) and be able to tell them apart. We had this one bright red male cardinal who never showed up without his three females :hat1:, the same pair of titmice that used to nest in the same birdhouse every year until a rainstorm knocked it off :( and once I accidentally startled a robin in the birdbath I put out for them. He was quite miffed and shook his feathers and angrily stalked off :lol:
     
  15. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    I may be wrong about the size. The American crow is one of the smaller black birds. I thought they were similar size to the robin. My birds are robin-sized so I suppose they are starlings. I didn't know they didn't have their markings in the spring.

    This is the 1st year that I've left the suet out after warm weather arrived. These black birds only eat the suet, not the seed, so I guess that is what attracted them to our back yard.

    Until we built our garden room we really didn't notice the birds much because it's too hot in Texas to sit outside very long. But we've gotten pretty interested & I've done a lot of googling to ID the different birds. And I'm sure that our nesting pair of cardinals are the same as last year...I think our male only has 1 female because we've only seen 1 female at the feeder. Our 2 cats love to watch as much as we do...they are inside cats so they love getting to see outside.
     
  16. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you are thinking about the American blackbird, which is similar in size to the robin? The crow is a very large bird -- at least 3-4 times the size of a robin -- about 16-20 inches long (the raven is even larger, around 25 inches). There are quite a few in my neighborhood and when they are feeding in my backyard they can be rather intimidating looking.
     
  17. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    I third the vote for Peterson's Field Guide - I keep mine by the back door so that I can consult it any time a new bird shows up to partake in the seed we put out or our birdbath.

    I was just at a resort on the west coast last week that thoughtfully provided binoculars and a guide to local birds in each room. It was really fun to see so many birds we don't have here in the east, and to be able to identify them. :)
     
  18. Aimless

    Aimless New Member

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    I'm late getting into this thread, but I'm a master birder. Everybody has their favorite field guide but I can't say that Peterson is mine. The problem with it is that the essential maps that show whether a bird might be in our area do not accompany the descriptions and illustrations of that bird. You end up doing some interminable flipping back and forth b/w the ID pages and the maps. I like Ken Kaufman's guides or the compact National Geographic guide.

    Sounds like we've identified a starling conclusively. The white spots on the feather tips do wear off over time. They also love suet. It's interesting to note that starlings are not native to the US. From Wikipedia:

    "Although there are approximately 200 million starlings in North America, they are all descendants of approximately 60-100 birds released in 1890 in Central Park, New York, by Eugene Schieffelin, who was a member of the Acclimation Society of North America reputedly trying to introduce to North America every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare."
     
  19. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

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    Its a starling and if you see lots of them on your lawn you have grubs!
     
  20. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    Yeah, I never see a starling by itself. It's always a ton of them at once.
     
  21. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    Actually I have my yard treated for grubs both fall & spring. Recently a big hole was dug in the front yard to find a leak in the sprinkler & they didn't find even one grub. I did find one in the garden when I was planting some new flowers but that was right before we spread the grub killer this spring. Since then I haven't found any & I have done a lot of planting.

    However, if I had grubs I would be glad to have the starlings eat them. But I've never had more than 4 or 5 at a time & never on the lawn...they like my suet feeder.
     
  22. victorskid

    victorskid Skating supporter

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    Unfortunately the use of certain lawn products are detrimental to birds as they get into the "food chain" - I've gone completely organic with lawn care to avoid causing any problems.

    I have several feeders and have birds nesting in the area, including robins, cardinals, chickadees, and the noisy crows.

    Not being able to see into the local nests, I'm spending a lot of time at the moment watching various ustream feeds that have webcams set up at nests, including the famous Molly the barn owl, several types of hummingbirds, cardinals, etc.

    Being a life-long bird watcher, this technology is wonderful for this type of voyeurism!!
     
  23. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Crows = BIG. Though not compared to ravens (which are big and mean-looking and do eat carrion, but unless you live pretty far north it's not a raven.)

    Starlings--usually where there's one there's more, but I get a few solitaries. I can't think of another short-tailed blackbird with a yellow bill. I also get cowbirds, but they're on the small side and have dark bills.