Hoping someone can identify a bird

Discussion in 'Gardening for Backyard Biodiversity in Canada' started by pmurphy, Sep 7, 2020.

  1. pmurphy

    pmurphy Rising Contributor

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    I set up a trail cam on my garden waterfall back in June and was amazed as to the variety of birds attracted to this water feature. I've had fun putting names to the different species however there is one bird I can't identify; it appears to be some sort of fledgling with a mix of down and adult plumage.
    It has appeared only twice at the waterfall and appears to be a little smaller than an american robin. Can anyone put a name to it?
     

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  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    It's a towhee
     
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  3. Acerholic

    Acerholic Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society

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    @pmurphy Good morning P, agree it is a Towhee. Great photo of a rather shy bird. Don't you just love garden web cams !!! Have used many in my job and the wildlife that is seen is amazing.
     
  4. Margot

    Margot Contributor

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    My ornithologist friend in Nanoose Bay just sent this:

    Hi Margot.

    I think it is a Towhee.

    The colours are all wrong but the pattern is correct for a Spotted Towhee.

    It may be a very young one as they will often have a second brood.

    I see no sign of the red eye colour but that could as it gets older. It might be a young female as they are similar in colour but tend to be more grey or brown than black.

    There are also many reasons why a bird does not achieve it’s proper colour. Genetic abnormalities are possible and even the diet can make the red colour on a bird appear orange or yellow.

    Perhaps it is a hybrid as they are a sparrow and there are many other sparrows around.

    It seems late for such a young bird but we have a large clutch of very young quail here right now who must have been born in the last 10 days.

    This is a female Towhee. It is not as dark as the male but still has the red eye, unlike your bird. I think it is just a young one in which the colour has not, nor may ever form properly.

    Joe
     
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  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Ditto to Spotted Towhee; a juvenile moulting to adult plumage. Don't think it's sexable yet, it'll need to get full adult plumage (and better pics!) before that can be done easily.
     
  6. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Well-Known Member

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    - so if you were enjoying your outdoor bathing and found pictures of yourself on the Internet later ...

    Yes it’s a juvenile (wet!) towhee

    Kind of size of robin but rounder and fluffier (when dry)

    They are year-round at the coast and are happy little “hop and scratchers” in that they feed and nest etc on the ground generally speaking

    Their pattern is to hip hop hop backwards and then nuzzle about in the leaves/soil for bugs etc and repeat many times

    Often they make such a racket noise under your shrubs that you think it’s a bear ... no, it’s your happy neighbourly towhee

    In dark cold winter, they like seeds on the ground because they do not generally fly and perch on a feeder.

    Maybe a tray feeder is more their style

    Their call is a few diff sounds
    Think of a buzzy Sound “toe whheeee”
    I am sure someone has video on YouTube for Vanc BC towhee sounds

    Oh and they are loud crashing about your shrubs - but for me one time it really was a black bear I had a few min prior dismissed as one of the many towhees ... a little close, but we all lived to tell stories!

    EDIT - I want to say I think your nature cam idea is great - maybe you can say more about the one you chose and does it wirelessly go to your phone or do you go out and remove a memory card ? And how do you keep the cam charged up? Etc.

    One more item is you may sometimes see and hear a “varied thrush” which also looks like Robin (a cousin) ... typically I would expect to hear and see thrush in March spring at coast BC

    The very distinct single note buzz call is a good clue (click Listen on link below)
    Varied Thrush Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
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  7. pmurphy

    pmurphy Rising Contributor

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    The camera is a STEALTH QS12ATC.
    It runs on 8 AA batteries that last about 3 months (I just replaced them a couple of days ago for the first time). This model is not wireless (I'm probably the last person on the Earth that doesn't have a cell phone) but uses a memory card which I swap out every other day or so.
    On average I will get 300 - 400 images per day (more if the raccoons are about) so I don't like to leave it too long - I made that mistake when it looked quiet by the waterfall so I left it for 5 days.....1927 images later....

    The camera is programed to take a burst of 3 photos every 0.5 seconds once activated and then resets after a 5 second interval so I can get MANY images, which I then sort through and keep only the best. But sometimes it's very tedious to sit and go through 200+ images of the raccoon kits playing in the waterfall in the middle of the night.
    I could increase the resolution for better photos but then it will also pick up every leaf blowing in the wind. You do get some blurred images of birds flying but most of the images are nice and clear. It's hard to see in the images of the fledgling but it does have down feathers on the upper parts of it's body and the only reason I kept these photos was to try and identify the bird, which still has not returned.
     
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