Dead Bird Quiz (new and revisited)

10 05 2013

We got a comment on a previous Dead Bird Quiz that gave me cause to revisit my i.d. I believe the comment is from birder Pam Hunt, as the commenter’s email traces back to this cool blog, Birding with Sacagawea. Pam (correct me if that’s not who you are, commenter!) wrote, “I’m pretty sure Bird B is NOT a woodcock. The pattern of bicolor on the bill is proportioned wrong, and the legs, toes, and tail are WAY too long for a woodcock. I’d concur with an earlier poster on Marbled Godwit, although the timing is VERY odd…” I took another look at the bird in light of that critique, and I see how the legs might appear quite long in this image, but I would maintain that this is one of the artifacts of death that tends to make dead birds appear very different from live ones. The legs are much more extended than they would ever have been in the bird’s life, making them look way too long for a woodcock. The feathers, however, extend almost all the way to the ankle joint. In a godwit, much more of the upper leg (tibiotarsus) would be bare. It’s hard to argue the point about bill color since the bill in our bird is turned so that we are seeing the lower bill from underneath. The point is well taken, though I find bill color in death seems to fade and alter rather quickly (dead gulls, for instance, tend to lose their characteristic bill coloration after a seemingly brief span in the elements.)

I post this since I very genuinely am no expert in shorebirds (including woodcock) so I would be most pleased if any of you wished to take a second look at that bird and see what you think.

As for this post, here’s another set of dead birds and bits for us to argue about!

Bird A, found by Wendy Stanton in North Carolina.

Bird A, found by Wendy Stanton in North Carolina.

Close up of the primary feathers (Wendy always provides excellent photo-documentation).

Close up of the primary feathers (Wendy always provides excellent photo-documentation).

Bird B, found by Kathleen Kelly in Maine. Underside of wing is also all white. Wing chord 27 cm.

Bird B, found by Kathleen Kelly in Maine. Underside of wing is also all white. Wing chord 27 cm.

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5 responses

10 05 2013
capteagleeyes

Bird B looks like a Glaucous or Iceland Gull, Bird A looks like a Laughing Gull.

10 05 2013
capteagleeyes

Bird B looks like a Snowy Egret wing as opposed to what I said.

11 05 2013
Marcia Lyons

Bird A – my vote goes for a Bonaparte’s Gull

11 05 2013
Mary Wright

Might as well go wild with the guesses this time:
Bird A is a Bonaparte’s Gull (second year, based on the amount of black in the outer primaries and the blackish distal band on the rectrices).
Bird B is a Snowy Egret (after-second-year, based on broad outer primaries).

14 05 2013
Wouter van Gestel

I agree with Bonaparte’s Gull and Snowy Egret, nice species.

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