Saturday, June 6, 2020

Doing a Double-take

Sometimes when I'm banding I'll catch a species of bird I've never handled before and that can be both exciting and frustrating. Then there are the birds I catch that I have handled before but one individual is different enough to give me pause. I had that experience recently when I walked up to one of my nets and pulled out a bird that made me say "What the...."

Here's a close-up:
The neck band was something I had never seen. However, once I looked at the whole bird, it was actually more obvious than you might think. If you look at the whole bird it can only be one species.

Take a look:
The whole body view tells you this is obviously an American Redstart. At first glance the thought is what an odd looking female...but it's NOT a female. This is a second year male. It takes males 2 years to get their complete black plumage. Second year males can show all sorts of odd patterns of spots and blobs of black feathers that are not consistent. I've never seen a second year male that shows a neck band like streak of black feathers.

What a cool bird. This is an individual I would love to catch again and see how the next molt makes him look. Should be a normal male Redstart plumage.

Remember, just because something doesn't look exactly like the field guide picture doesn't mean it's a hybrid or a previously undiscovered species.

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