Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 20, 2009

Abnormal plumage

Filed under: Birds, curiosities, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, rarities — richditch @ 10:03 am
Red-winged Blackbird - leucistic

Red-winged Blackbird - leucistic

Some birds encountered in the field can take you by surprise, and sometimes can be confusing.

While walking the trails at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, this weekend my eye was immediately drawn to this strange looking bird that landed at the top of a bare tree ahead of me. I got off a few frames before it departed and was not able to get any closer, so this shot is a massive crop (close to 1:1 from a 100% view). That isn’t good enough for wall art, but it certainly is sufficient for identification and documentation purposes (always important to birders).

The extensive white in the wings, rump, and tail give this bird a superficial appearance of a Bobolink, and even the brown streaking on the upper back might be suggestive of a female or non breeding bird. But there’s a lot that doesn’t fit the color distribution of a Bobolink. The real giveaway, though, is the shape of the beak which is much to sharply pointed for Boblink but a perfect match to Red-winged Blackbird.

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1 Comment »

  1. Pretty bird!
    I remember years ago encountering a Red-winged B at Brigantine with perfectly symmetrical white outer rectrices; can’t count the number of people who asked that day whether we’d seen the meadowlark….
    One of the lists (Texas, perhaps) over these past couple of days featured a photo of a “Red Crossbill” that was in fact a Red-winged Blackbird with an overgrown bill.
    See you soon, I hope!
    Rick

    Comment by rick wright — January 20, 2009 @ 10:18 am


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