Although the colors are odd, the consensus on yesterday’s mystery bird is that it’s an Eastern phoebe.
Those who weighed in via e-mail included famous ornithologist Laura Erickson, author most recently of "101 Ways to Help Birds."
"It’s an Eastern phoebe. But the weird belly color? It’s either wet or dirty or has some serious pigment issues. The black may be bare skin. … Females have a brood patch, and this one may have for some reason lost additional feathers.
"Lots of possibilities about why the belly looks weird, but the fact remains that it’s an Eastern phoebe."
That’s enough for me. Meanwhile, I’ve yet to see my first Eastern phoebe. I’m almost sure I heard one the other day on a hike of the Brewer’s Ridge section of the Superior Hiking Trail in West Duluth. But I couldn’t get it to show itself.
Have a safe and exuberant Independence Day, everyone.
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