Wherever two or three birders are gathered, you will have differing opinons on …. What is that bird anyway?
Such as the case with our most recent round of Name that Bird. It hasn’t gotten many responses, but those who have responded agree the bird in question is a ruby-throated hummingbird.
Except that Kurt Kuehn, who took the picture, thinks it’s more likely an Eastern phoebe.
Let’s take another look at the photo. This version, toned in Photoshop by my colleague Beverly Godfrey, is a little lighter, so there’s no quite so much shadow on the bird:
It’s a ruby-throated hummingbird, writes Duluth native Kathy Carr Lodholz, now of Ridgefield, Wash., in an e-mail. "There’s only one bird that has a bill like that, and they do have more of a notched tail than other hummers, depending on how he is holding his tail at the time."
But Kurt is standing by his phoebe. "I still don’t think so," he writes of the hummingbird theory. "Where are the scallops where the gorget ends?"
Well, I couldn’t answer that question — at least not without scrambling for my dictionary. The gorget is the "necklace" that gives the hummingbird its ruby-throated name. I have to admit I’m still not quite sure about those missing scallops.
For comparison, Kurt offers other pictures that he is pretty sure are of the same bird, and he’s pretty sure that bird is a phoebe. Here’s one of them:
To my eye, this is a wonderful picture of an Eastern phoebe. But the bird in the first picture looks more like a hummingbird — mostly because of that bill. But my thoughts are definitely not the final word.
While we’re looking at pictures, here are two more that Kurt sent my way today, both of birds that weren’t very cooperative with the photographer:
A robin, of course, but notice the white patches. Kurt describes this as a partially albino robin.
Probably a tree swallow, Kurt says. It’s obviously in a hurry to get somewhere.
Keep those pictures, observations and comments coming! And thanks, everyone. My e-mail address: email@example.com.