Juvenile uncertainty

September 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Sometimes the best discoveries are those closest to home, and so it went this morning, when I was taking a writing break and walked down the hall to my wife's office, which has a nice window view of the shrubs and flowers on the west side of the house. There, I noticed a small, dark bird, clearly a juvenile something, perched on the branches of a holly and making a series of forays into the goldenrod to the explorer's left: dive, forage the flowers, return... dive, forage the flowers, return... It was clearly gleaning tiny invertebrates from the yellow blossoms, but precisely what? Those were, most likely, going to be too small to see, so I opted for job one: getting a good picture of the bird and, at the very least, identifying it. I quickly had it down to one of two similar looking species. It was either a juvenile Phoebe or a young Wood Peewee, and, frankly, in the youth plumage, they're not that easy to tell apart. With the adults, a combination of the song and the wingbars is enough to nail down the ID, but in this one, which lacked the adult distinguishing characters, I went with behavior. It wasn't flicking its tail and it kept returning, after each sally, to its perch. I'm guessing it's a Wood Peewee. Maybe I'm even right.


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