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Old 07-22-2007, 11:43 PM   #1
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Wild Bird ID help

can anyone ID this bird? It is a northern california species.
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Old 07-23-2007, 01:35 AM   #2
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I'm pretty certain it's some kind of finch. Perhaps a female purple finch, although it's coloration doesn't match exactly.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:29 AM   #3
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Thanks Andy for the reply. This is a pretty large bird..not small like most finches. Close to robin size. I tried to find a picture of the purple finch and all I am finding are small little fat, red birds. You wouldnt happen to have an image link to one you are talking about would you?
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Old 07-23-2007, 10:59 AM   #4
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Here is the link I found. Not a 100% match; and yes, these fellows are sparrow sized. Unfortunately, all my bird books are for birds east of the Mississippi.
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Old 07-23-2007, 11:42 AM   #5
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I looked through the Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region. I got the western region book to take to Colorado when we go there. The closest match I could come up with was the Dickcissel (Spiza americana). The dickcissel had the band above the eye and same beak shape as your bird, but its range is not listed as being as far west as California. The dickcissel common name comes from the sound of its song.

I couldn't find a picture exactly like yours. Some reasons why include different colors and appearances in breeding season or in juveniles. Some birds have different "races" based on location. Here in western PA, for example, the junco is a gray and white bird, called the "slate-colored" race. In Colorado, it is a brown and gray bird, called the "gray-headed" race.

One time I saw a bird native to Texas in my backyard! Sometimes they do fly outside of their home range.


Spiza americana: http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i6040id.html
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Old 07-23-2007, 02:36 PM   #6
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I don't disagree with Andy's assessment of the bird being a type of finch:

http://www.tsuru-bird.net/finches/index.html
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Old 07-23-2007, 07:02 PM   #7
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Thanks for the help guys..I have passed the info along.
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Old 07-26-2007, 01:11 AM   #8
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Hara, I got a chance to look in my National Geographic Song and Garden Birds of North America.
Your mystery bird is definitely a female Black Headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-headed_Grosbeak
Look at the third pic down

At least, my initial guess wasn't too far off - grosbeaks are in the same family as cardinals and finches. They all possess a thick conical beak that they use to crush open seeds.
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Old 07-26-2007, 11:27 AM   #9
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EUREKA!!

Thanks again Andy.
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