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Updated on July 28, 2015, 2:35 pm

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28 Jul: @ 14:33:42  "Buttons" the Passenger Pigeon -- perhaps not pure Passenger? [Noah Arthur]
21 Jul: @ 16:49:38  King or Cling Rail? [Michael Britt]
20 Jul: @ 15:57:47 Re: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper? [Suzanne Sullivan]
20 Jul: @ 10:45:17 Re: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper? [=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Jan_J=F6rgensen?=]
19 Jul: @ 15:01:13 Re: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper? [Andrew Baksh]
19 Jul: @ 11:50:14 Re: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper? [=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Jan_J=F6rgensen?=]
19 Jul: @ 11:47:29  Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper? [=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Jan_J=F6rgensen?=]
16 Jul: @ 16:22:19 Re: stint fever and migration timing [Kevin McLaughlin]
16 Jul: @ 11:56:43  stint fever and migration timing [Paul Lehman]
13 Jul: @ 01:57:17 Re: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Mike O'Keeffe]
12 Jul: @ 16:41:29 Re: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Mike O'Keeffe]
12 Jul: @ 16:41:09 Re: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Tristan McKee]
12 Jul: @ 12:33:05  Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Tristan McKee]
12 Jul: @ 11:00:02 Re: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Tristan McKee]
12 Jul: @ 05:48:09 Re: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Mike O'Keeffe]
11 Jul: @ 19:40:47  Gulls and stints: metrics in photos [Tristan McKee]
11 Jul: @ 01:07:50  Common Tern with many longipennis characteristics -Texas [Mark B Bartosik]
10 Jul: @ 14:11:02 Re: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments [Peter Pyle]
10 Jul: @ 01:57:50 Re: Stint Fever [Mike O'Keeffe]
09 Jul: @ 15:08:07 Re: Stint Fever [Blake Mathys]
09 Jul: @ 13:26:07 Re: Stint Fever [Lethaby, Nick]
09 Jul: @ 11:36:15 Re: Stint Fever [Alvaro Jaramillo]
09 Jul: @ 10:23:44 Re: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments [Steve Hampton]
09 Jul: @ 09:49:39 Re: Stint Fever [Reid Martin]
09 Jul: @ 01:00:38 Re: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments [Alvaro Jaramillo]
09 Jul: @ 00:17:32  Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments [Peter Pyle]
08 Jul: @ 17:01:13 Re: Stint Fever [Lethaby, Nick]
08 Jul: @ 16:03:56 Re: Stint Fever [julian hough]
08 Jul: @ 13:57:49 Re: Stint Fever [Tristan McKee]
08 Jul: @ 10:19:39 Re: Stint Fever [julian hough]
07 Jul: @ 21:29:51 Re: Stint Fever [Noah Arthur]
07 Jul: @ 13:15:48 Re: Stint Fever [julian hough]
07 Jul: @ 11:38:45 Re: Stint Fever [Robert Lewis]
07 Jul: @ 09:30:44 Re: Stint Fever [Andrew Haffenden]
07 Jul: @ 07:14:17 Re: Stint Fever [Michael Price]
07 Jul: @ 02:45:53 Re: Stint Fever [Mike O'Keeffe]
06 Jul: @ 22:34:07 Re: Stint Fever [Mike Patterson]
06 Jul: @ 21:57:01  Stint Fever [Tristan McKee]
06 Jul: @ 10:12:50  Are a large number of Cayenne-type Terns invading North America and interbreedin [Mark B Bartosik]
03 Jul: @ 15:19:53 Re: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird [Andrew Core]
03 Jul: @ 14:44:37 Re: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird [Lethaby, Nick]
03 Jul: @ 14:00:37 Re: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird [Alvaro Jaramillo]
03 Jul: @ 13:39:59 Re: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird [Peter Pyle]
03 Jul: @ 11:16:15 Re: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird [R.D. Everhart]
02 Jul: @ 15:33:18 Re: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird [Peter Pyle]
02 Jul: @ 00:30:36 Re: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario [Jacob Socolar]
01 Jul: @ 21:56:58 Re: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario [Alvaro Jaramillo]
01 Jul: @ 18:45:49 Re: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario [Brian Sullivan]
01 Jul: @ 18:45:48 Re: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario [Lethaby, Nick]
01 Jul: @ 16:34:15  Mystery Kingbird in Ontario [Alan Wormington]





Subject: "Buttons" the Passenger Pigeon -- perhaps not pure Passenger?
Date: Tue Jul 28 2015 14:33 pm
From: semirelicta AT gmail.com
 
Hi everyone. I was looking at some Passenger Pigeon photos today, and
noticed that the specimen named "Buttons" -- the last known wild Passenger
-- looks rather different from the other specimens and live photos. She's
dark and uniformly-colored on the foreparts, with a strong contrast between
the dark, grayish breast and pale belly. No photos of other Passengers seem
to show this contrast.

The pattern reminds me somewhat of Rock Pigeon. I wonder... Might "Buttons"
have been a RockXPassenger hybrid??

Here's a couple photos of the specimen:
http://www.birdzilla.com/blog/...
https://ohiohistory.files.word...

Noah Arthur, Oakland, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: King or Cling Rail?
Date: Tue Jul 21 2015 16:49 pm
From: sootyshear AT gmail.com
 
Good afternoon,

I'm hoping some of you can weigh in on this rail. First some background.

Last year in Bayonne, NJ, we had a King Rail pair with and produce hybrid
offspring with a Clapper Rail in saltmarsh habitat. A picture of that bird
is actually featured in the species BNA Online account, under the heading
"Breeding."

This year a candidate for King Rail is present but it seems to be a
different bird based on the extent of gray in the malar region,
supercilium, and nape. Some are suggesting that this bird may be one of
last year's hybrid offspring. I posted two recent pics on my Flickr page,
please view and comment. King or Cling...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Thanks,
Mike Britt
Bayonne, NJ

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper?
Date: Mon Jul 20 2015 15:57 pm
From: swampy435 AT gmail.com
 
Jan,
You should take a look at this gallery it may be helpful.
http://www.pbase.com/suzsull/p...
I photographed this bird a few years back in Sept at Sandy Point Plum
Island Massachusetts. Although I never submitted it to the records
committee, it looks pretty good for Sharp-tailed x Dulin. I think the tail
was the persuading feature. Your bird and my bird seem to have strong
similarities. I did send my photos off to a few folks and Marshall Illiff
had some good comments. I thought I had his comments on my website but they
are not there. If you like I can dig them out of my email and send them to
you. I also enabled the right click on my website if you want to use any
of the photos and do a side by side or something. Someone else had the same
bird the year before, same place, a week before my sighting. At that time
it was speculated that it was a White-rumpxDunlin, but there were no flight
shots. Blair Nikula also had a couple of pressumed White-rumpxDunlin
hybrids on cape cod a while back. But I don't have the link to those
photos.
Suzanne Sullivan
Wilmington, Ma
swampy435@gmail.com

On Monday, July 20, 2015, Jan Jörgensen
wrote:

> Hi all, again.
>
> Since not all are members on Facebook which is from where I linked the
> Calidris wader,(I should have noted this, sorry for that. I have a better
> link for the bird here:http://tinyurl.com/p6nc7rt
>
> JanJ
> Sweden
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>


--
Suzanne M. Sullivan
Wilmington, MA
swampy435@gmail.com

Be the Voice of the River
http://www.ipswichriver.org

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper?
Date: Mon Jul 20 2015 10:45 am
From: birds.jorgensen AT blixtmail.se
 
Hi all, again.

Since not all are members on Facebook which is from where I linked the
Calidris wader,(I should have noted this, sorry for that. I have a better
link for the bird here:http://tinyurl.com/p6nc7rt

JanJ
Sweden

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper?
Date: Sun Jul 19 2015 15:01 pm
From: birdingdude AT gmail.com
 
I saw photos of this bird on Thursday and then I thought it was Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper. The rump and back all look like the said hybrid to my eyes.  It's a beauty of a bird and well photographed!

風 Swift as the wind
林 Quiet as the forest
火 Conquer like the fire
山 Steady as the mountain
Sun Tzu The Art of War

> (\__/)
> (= '.'=)
> (") _ (")
> Sent from somewhere in the field using my mobile device!

Andrew Baksh
www.birdingdude.blogspot.com

> On Jul 19, 2015, at 11:40 AM, Jan Jörgensen wrote:
>
> Hi all!
>
> Receently this Calidris was photographed on Öland southeast Sweden.
> It´s considered to be a Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper.
> Any thoughts would be welcome.
>
> https://www.facebook.com/dan.k...?
> set=a.1132967693384558.1073742095.100000140137852&type=3&uploaded=11&hc_loc
> ation=ufi
>
> Cheres
> JanJ
> Sweden
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper?
Date: Sun Jul 19 2015 11:50 am
From: birds.jorgensen AT blixtmail.se
 
A shorther better link here:

http://tinyurl.com/oykofzr

JanJ

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Hybrid Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper?
Date: Sun Jul 19 2015 11:47 am
From: birds.jorgensen AT blixtmail.se
 
Hi all!

Receently this Calidris was photographed on land southeast Sweden.
Its considered to be a Dunlin x Curlew Sandpiper.
Any thoughts would be welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/dan.k...?
set=a1132967693384558.1073742095.100000140137852&type=3uploaded&hc_loc
ation=ufi

Cheres
JanJ
Sweden

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: stint fever and migration timing
Date: Thu Jul 16 2015 16:22 pm
From: kevinmclaughlin05 AT gmail.com
 
I thought I would comment on Paul's comparison of early arrival dates of
juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper between western and eastern North America,
giving an Ontario perspective. Going back in my notes to 1980, I discovered
only three July records: July 30, 1994 (2) Blenheim Sewage Lagoons (with
Barb Charlton, Rob Dobos); July 30, 1995 (1) Mitchell Sewage Lagoons (with
BC, RD); July 31, 2005 (1) Rock Point Provincial Park (with Ron Pittaway).
A few juveniles of this species typically begin to appear in southern
Ontario in the first week of August, quickly becoming common after that.

Kevin McLaughlin
Hamilton, Ontario.

On Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 12:24 PM, Paul Lehman
wrote:

> Most everyone is likely bored or over-saturated by this topic by now--but
> I was out of the country until yesterday, so missed out. All I wish to add
> at this time is that the Wyoming bird is indeed likely a Semi Sand photo'd
> in early-morning light BUT that all the comparisons and discussion of
> Little Stint should perhaps have been directed a bit more toward juvenile
> Red-necked Stint, as that species shows a more similar wing-covert pattern
> and breast-side markings pattern to this bird than would most Littles.
> Second, one comment was made that juvenile Semi Sandpipers do not arrive
> along the West Coast until early August or so. This is not true. Juv.
> Semis are often the first or the second juv peep species to arrive in
> California (where rare but very regular in small numbers), for example, in
> early fall, with TYPICAL arrival dates during the last 4-5 days in July,
> and all-time early arrivals of juveniles around 22 or 23 July. This is
> quite a bit earlier than arrival dates of juvs in eastern North America,
> and has been a well-known difference since the late 1970s, and perhaps is
> due to breeding grounds possibly opening up a bit sooner in coastal Alaska
> than in eastern arctic Canada, for example.
>
> --Paul Lehman, San Diego
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: stint fever and migration timing
Date: Thu Jul 16 2015 11:56 am
From: lehman.paul1 AT verizon.net
 
Most everyone is likely bored or over-saturated by this topic by
now--but I was out of the country until yesterday, so missed out. All I
wish to add at this time is that the Wyoming bird is indeed likely a
Semi Sand photo'd in early-morning light BUT that all the comparisons
and discussion of Little Stint should perhaps have been directed a bit
more toward juvenile Red-necked Stint, as that species shows a more
similar wing-covert pattern and breast-side markings pattern to this
bird than would most Littles. Second, one comment was made that
juvenile Semi Sandpipers do not arrive along the West Coast until early
August or so. This is not true. Juv. Semis are often the first or the
second juv peep species to arrive in California (where rare but very
regular in small numbers), for example, in early fall, with TYPICAL
arrival dates during the last 4-5 days in July, and all-time early
arrivals of juveniles around 22 or 23 July. This is quite a bit earlier
than arrival dates of juvs in eastern North America, and has been a
well-known difference since the late 1970s, and perhaps is due to
breeding grounds possibly opening up a bit sooner in coastal Alaska than
in eastern arctic Canada, for example.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Mon Jul 13 2015 1:57 am
From: okeeffeml AT eircom.net
 
Norman,

That is a really interesting observation and one I hadn't considered. Interesting how gestalt can be altered by biology and the environment.

Regards

Mike

-----Original Message-----
From: norman deans van swelm [mailto:norman.vanswelm@wxs.nl]
Sent: 12 July 2015 22:07
To: Tristan McKee; BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos

It's the function of the neck that matters Tristan as in Reeve and godwits it enables the parent attending chicks to follow and watch over them in relatively high vegetation.
cheers, Norman

Tristan McKee asks: > Also, does anyone have access to small Calidris skeletons? I'd be a bit
> surprised if the necks of Long-toed and Least are physically identical.
> I'm
> not sure I'm entirely convinced that these are one anothers' closest
> relatives--the plumage similarity could be a striking example of
> convergent evolution, or of past hybridization or even past mimicry.
>
> Here's a Least with its neck largely extended:
>
> http://www.danielslim.com/phot...
> lat-295
>
> And a Long-toed:
>
> http://beautyofbirds.com/longt...
>
> Notice that in extended Least, the lower neck takes on a "volcano"
> appearance, broad at the base with relatively straight edges and
> tapering suddenly to a "pinch" then bulging at the head, which can
> give the bird a hunchbacked look. Long-toed with neck extended is
> "snaky", commonly with a distinctive arch, with a well-defined
> "hindneck notch" (present on Least but less sharply angled) because
> the crown/nape junction is squared, but otherwise there is little expansion of the head.
>
> Many thanks,
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> On Sunday, July 12, 2015, Tristan McKee wrote:
>
>> Hi Mike and all,
>>
>> Thanks for your thoughts! I just want to clarify that I set up the
>> formula so that it doesn't matter at all whether the neck is fully
>> stretched--it's a one-way, so if you get a low value, the bird is not
>> identified. The idea is just to determine which values are beyond the
>> range of variation of Least, should the bird happen to stretch its
>> neck beyond a certain point.
>> As you say, lens distortion and foreshortening need to be carefully
>> considered.
>>
>> Tristan McKee'
>> Arcata, CA
>>
>> On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:47 AM, Mike O'Keeffe
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Tristan,
>>>
>>> You have set a really tough challenge this time!
>>>
>>> I think direct measurement beats guesswork every time but, as you
>>> point out, for starters you have foreshortening... and there are
>>> other confounding factors to contend with as outlined below. You
>>> have obviously gathered a good sample size which is an important
>>> start. I think the way to nail your formula is to create a minimum
>>> standard and rule out each of the confounding factors in turn.
>>>
>>> In an early posting on my blog I explored some factors at work here
>>> http://birdingimagequalitytool.blogspot.ie/2014/03/size-matters.html?m=1
>>> I intend getting back to this subject but in the meantime here are
>>> some initial thoughts.
>>>
>>> POSTURE
>>> Your biggest problem I think will be determining if the neck is
>>> fully extended or not. Unlike a bill which is fixed in length the
>>> neck is hidden by feathers and varies greatly in length depending on
>>> posture. Assuming for a minute that Long-toed Stints do have
>>> physically longer necks than Least Sandpipers - how can you be sure
>>> an individual LT Stint has it's neck extended all the way. There
>>> would need to be some reliable way of determining that the neck is
>>> actually extended as far as it needs to be for compatible
>>> measurement. You also have to consider overextension.
>>> Presumably what you are trying to measure here is the typical,
>>> comfortable neck extension shown by a bird that is alert but not
>>> over stretching.
>>> Again there might be certain things you would need to look for to
>>> determine the bird isn't actually overstretching. Lastly
>>> consideration would need to be given to physical injuries and
>>> deformities.
>>>
>>> PERSPECTIVE INCLUDING FORESHORTENING To minimise perspective issues
>>> we need to know the camera and lens involved. Maintaining a
>>> distance from the subject and using a telehoto lens is preferable to
>>> using a short lens and taking the image at very close quarters, eg
>>> in the hand. As for foreshortening, one way around this would be to
>>> create a standard mask with key points plotted on it eg. the ideal
>>> position if the eye, bill base and points where the legs meet the
>>> body plus wing and tail tips and numerous other fixed points on the
>>> body. This defines the measurement template. Only images which
>>> closely match and align with this template would be suitable for
>>> measurement comparison.
>>> You
>>> could overlay both the Least and Long-toed templates on the same mask.
>>> What you might find is that as few as 1% or less of your 500 data
>>> set will be suitable for comparison using this template. But having
>>> a defined template means that going forward people will know what to
>>> look for and at what angle to photograph subjects in order to
>>> compare them to an agreed standard.
>>>
>>> Lens Distortion
>>> In order to eliminate lens distortion (barrel and pincushion) and
>>> ensure we are looking at a rectilinear image the camera and lens
>>> must be known and there would need to be a background reference as
>>> to the risk of lens distortion. The risk can being minimised by
>>> always photographing the subject in the centre of the lens and only
>>> filling the frame about 50%.
>>>
>>> Those are a few initial thoughts on how to tackle this extremely
>>> tricky subject.
>>>
>>> Regards
>>>
>>> Mike O'Keeffe
>>> Ireland
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
>>> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
>>> Sent: 12 July 2015 01:22
>>> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
>>> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
>>>
>>> Hi folks,
>>>
>>> The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about
>>> our initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar
>>> species cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera
>>> captures so many details impossible to see in the field due to the
>>> constant fast movement of these birds or suboptimal viewing
>>> conditions. In the field, we identify birds much more holistically.
>>> In photos, we are exposed to many fine details which can vary
>>> dramatically between individuals.
>>>
>>> My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think
>>> about it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with
>>> mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard
>>> before calling it in..." ;-)
>>>
>>> One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of
>>> metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in
>>> California to apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told
>>> that they are widely used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID
>>> (and for the review of vagrant Icelands as well).
>>>
>>> Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc.
>>> It makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and
>>> a short neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for
>>> Asians looking for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can
>>> only be used to establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with
>>> its neck extended is from Least, not the other way around (because
>>> Long-toeds don't always have their necks extended).
>>>
>>> Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:
>>>
>>> A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to
>>> shoulder) B = gape to nape distance of Least C = extended neck
>>> length of candidate Long-toed D = gape to nape distance of candidate
>>> Long-toed
>>>
>>> Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B
>>> obtained from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements
>>> of C/D)
>>>
>>> Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest
>>> fully-extended necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.
>>>
>>> The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation
>>> becomes more accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of
>>> apparently different individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and
>>> obtained a maximum A/B of about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will
>>> increase the value, so you have to be reasonable about which photos
>>> you use. It's also not always easy to determine exactly where the
>>> shoulder and auriculars end, so we might predict some
>>> observer-biased variation in this value, perhaps pushing it to
>>> 1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more
>>> precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often
>>> approach 2.0!
>>>
>>> 1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of
>>> how much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I
>>> haven't measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find
>>> a difference of about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and
>>> long-necked Least in my sample of 500.
>>>
>>> You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in
>>> question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended
>>> and increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your
>>> test a bit, because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck
>>> fully extended.
>>>
>>> Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas
>>> regarding use of metrics in photos.
>>>
>>> Tristan McKee
>>> Arcata, CA
>>>
>>> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Sun Jul 12 2015 16:41 pm
From: okeeffeml AT eircom.net
 
Hi Tristan,

I'm certainly not an expert on Least versus Long-toed and I have never tried to quantify the maximum neck stretch of either species.

Of the images of the Little River bird

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
and
https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

seems to show a neck length and shape awfully like this image...

http://beautyofbirds.com/longt...

So I guess the first question is - is the Little River bird outside the range of Least Sandpiper or not?

Regards

Mike O'Keeffe
Ireland






-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
Sent: 12 July 2015 16:17
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos

Hi Mike and all,

Thanks for your thoughts! I just want to clarify that I set up the formula so that it doesn't matter at all whether the neck is fully stretched--it's a one-way, so if you get a low value, the bird is not identified. The idea is just to determine which values are beyond the range of variation of Least, should the bird happen to stretch its neck beyond a certain point.
As you say, lens distortion and foreshortening need to be carefully considered.

Tristan McKee'
Arcata, CA

On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:47 AM, Mike O'Keeffe wrote:

> Tristan,
>
> You have set a really tough challenge this time!
>
> I think direct measurement beats guesswork every time but, as you
> point out, for starters you have foreshortening... and there are other
> confounding factors to contend with as outlined below. You have
> obviously gathered a good sample size which is an important start. I
> think the way to nail your formula is to create a minimum standard and
> rule out each of the confounding factors in turn.
>
> In an early posting on my blog I explored some factors at work here
> http://birdingimagequalitytool.blogspot.ie/2014/03/size-matters.html?m=1
> I intend getting back to this subject but in the meantime here are
> some initial thoughts.
>
> POSTURE
> Your biggest problem I think will be determining if the neck is fully
> extended or not. Unlike a bill which is fixed in length the neck is
> hidden by feathers and varies greatly in length depending on posture.
> Assuming for a minute that Long-toed Stints do have physically longer
> necks than Least Sandpipers - how can you be sure an individual LT
> Stint has it's neck extended all the way. There would need to be some
> reliable way of determining that the neck is actually extended as far
> as it needs to be for compatible measurement. You also have to consider overextension.
> Presumably what you are trying to measure here is the typical,
> comfortable neck extension shown by a bird that is alert but not over stretching.
> Again there might be certain things you would need to look for to
> determine the bird isn't actually overstretching. Lastly
> consideration would need to be given to physical injuries and deformities.
>
> PERSPECTIVE INCLUDING FORESHORTENING
> To minimise perspective issues we need to know the camera and lens
> involved. Maintaining a distance from the subject and using a
> telehoto lens is preferable to using a short lens and taking the image
> at very close quarters, eg in the hand. As for foreshortening, one
> way around this would be to create a standard mask with key points
> plotted on it eg. the ideal position if the eye, bill base and points
> where the legs meet the body plus wing and tail tips and numerous
> other fixed points on the body. This defines the measurement
> template. Only images which closely match and align with this
> template would be suitable for measurement comparison. You could overlay both the Least and Long-toed templates on the same mask.
> What you might find is that as few as 1% or less of your 500 data set
> will be suitable for comparison using this template. But having a
> defined template means that going forward people will know what to
> look for and at what angle to photograph subjects in order to compare
> them to an agreed standard.
>
> Lens Distortion
> In order to eliminate lens distortion (barrel and pincushion) and
> ensure we are looking at a rectilinear image the camera and lens must
> be known and there would need to be a background reference as to the
> risk of lens distortion. The risk can being minimised by always
> photographing the subject in the centre of the lens and only filling the frame about 50%.
>
> Those are a few initial thoughts on how to tackle this extremely
> tricky subject.
>
> Regards
>
> Mike O'Keeffe
> Ireland
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
> Sent: 12 July 2015 01:22
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
>
> Hi folks,
>
> The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about
> our initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar
> species cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera
> captures so many details impossible to see in the field due to the
> constant fast movement of these birds or suboptimal viewing
> conditions. In the field, we identify birds much more holistically. In
> photos, we are exposed to many fine details which can vary dramatically between individuals.
>
> My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think
> about it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with
> mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard
> before calling it in..." ;-)
>
> One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of
> metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in
> California to apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told that
> they are widely used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID (and for
> the review of vagrant Icelands as well).
>
> Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc.
> It makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and a
> short neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for Asians
> looking for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can only be
> used to establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with its neck
> extended is from Least, not the other way around (because Long-toeds
> don't always have their necks extended).
>
> Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:
>
> A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to
> shoulder) B = gape to nape distance of Least C = extended neck length
> of candidate Long-toed D = gape to nape distance of candidate
> Long-toed
>
> Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B
> obtained from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of
> C/D)
>
> Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest
> fully-extended necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.
>
> The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation becomes
> more accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of apparently
> different individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and obtained a
> maximum A/B of about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will increase the
> value, so you have to be reasonable about which photos you use. It's
> also not always easy to determine exactly where the shoulder and
> auriculars end, so we might predict some observer-biased variation in
> this value, perhaps pushing it to
> 1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more
> precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often
> approach 2.0!
>
> 1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of
> how much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I
> haven't measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find a
> difference of about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and
> long-necked Least in my sample of 500.
>
> You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in
> question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended
> and increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your test
> a bit, because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck fully extended.
>
> Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas regarding
> use of metrics in photos.
>
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Sun Jul 12 2015 16:41 pm
From: atmckee AT gmail.com
 
To re-thread this discussion back into gulls and stints... It occurred to
me that the equation for a vagrant Iceland Gull candidate vs. a sample of
Glaucous Gulls should have exactly the same form as the equation for a
vagrant Long-toed Stint candidate vs. a sample of Least Sandpipers; i.e.,
we are just trying to determine the extreme value that can reasonably be
achieved by a common species in an inverse relationship between two
lengths. I'm not sure this is the best or simplest form (I'm just a
biologist, not a math geek!), but this is exactly the same equation we use
every time we decide whether to identify a bird based the length of its
bill in comparison to its head. In other words,

A = primary extension beyond tertials of Glaucous Gull
B = bill length of Glaucous Gull
C = primary extension of candidate Iceland Gull
D = bill length of candidate Iceland Gull

Diagnostic value for bird in question = (maximum value of A/B obtained from
n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of C/D)

Watch out for foreshortening and lens distortion!

Be sure to age-stratify your sample, as primary extension and bill length
vary with age in gulls.

1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) provides an easily interpretable percentage of how
different the photo is from the closest Glaucous Gull photo in your sample.

You can increase the accuracy of your assessment of the candidate Iceland
Gull by using multiple photographs of it and thereby increasing g.

The first five 1st-cycle birds labeled as Glaucous Gulls that I measured
gave me a maximum A/B of 1.4 (from the bill tip to inner point of the
gape--i.e., not including the gape-line that continues back and/or down
into the feathers). The first 1st-cycle bird labeled as an Iceland Gull
gave me a C/D of 2.5.

Thus the diagnostic value for this Iceland Gull candidate is:
1.4/2.5 = 0.56 with n = 5 and g = 1

1 - 0.56 = 0.44, so this bird's primary extension/bill length ratio differs
by 44% from the most extreme Glaucous Gull in my sample of 5.

Thanks for any help with improving, simplifying, or testing this formula
(or pointing out where similar formulae have been used elsewhere).

Tristan McKee

Arcata, CA

On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 9:44 AM, Tristan McKee wrote:

> Also, does anyone have access to small Calidris skeletons? I'd be a bit
> surprised if the necks of Long-toed and Least are physically identical. I'm
> not sure I'm entirely convinced that these are one anothers' closest
> relatives--the plumage similarity could be a striking example of convergent
> evolution, or of past hybridization or even past mimicry.
>
> Here's a Least with its neck largely extended:
>
>
> http://www.danielslim.com/phot...
>
> And a Long-toed:
>
> http://beautyofbirds.com/longt...
>
> Notice that in extended Least, the lower neck takes on a "volcano"
> appearance, broad at the base with relatively straight edges and tapering
> suddenly to a "pinch" then bulging at the head, which can give the bird a
> hunchbacked look. Long-toed with neck extended is "snaky", commonly with a
> distinctive arch, with a well-defined "hindneck notch" (present on Least
> but less sharply angled) because the crown/nape junction is squared, but
> otherwise there is little expansion of the head.
>
> Many thanks,
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
>
> On Sunday, July 12, 2015, Tristan McKee wrote:
>
>> Hi Mike and all,
>>
>> Thanks for your thoughts! I just want to clarify that I set up the
>> formula so that it doesn't matter at all whether the neck is fully
>> stretched--it's a one-way, so if you get a low value, the bird is not
>> identified. The idea is just to determine which values are beyond the range
>> of variation of Least, should the bird happen to stretch its neck beyond a
>> certain point. As you say, lens distortion and foreshortening need to be
>> carefully considered.
>>
>> Tristan McKee'
>> Arcata, CA
>>
>> On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:47 AM, Mike O'Keeffe
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Tristan,
>>>
>>> You have set a really tough challenge this time!
>>>
>>> I think direct measurement beats guesswork every time but, as you point
>>> out, for starters you have foreshortening... and there are other
>>> confounding factors to contend with as outlined below. You have obviously
>>> gathered a good sample size which is an important start. I think the way
>>> to nail your formula is to create a minimum standard and rule out each of
>>> the confounding factors in turn.
>>>
>>> In an early posting on my blog I explored some factors at work here
>>> http://birdingimagequalitytool.blogspot.ie/2014/03/size-matters.html?m=1
>>> I intend getting back to this subject but in the meantime here are some
>>> initial thoughts.
>>>
>>> POSTURE
>>> Your biggest problem I think will be determining if the neck is fully
>>> extended or not. Unlike a bill which is fixed in length the neck is hidden
>>> by feathers and varies greatly in length depending on posture. Assuming
>>> for a minute that Long-toed Stints do have physically longer necks than
>>> Least Sandpipers - how can you be sure an individual LT Stint has it's neck
>>> extended all the way. There would need to be some reliable way of
>>> determining that the neck is actually extended as far as it needs to be for
>>> compatible measurement. You also have to consider overextension.
>>> Presumably what you are trying to measure here is the typical, comfortable
>>> neck extension shown by a bird that is alert but not over stretching.
>>> Again there might be certain things you would need to look for to determine
>>> the bird isn't actually overstretching. Lastly consideration would need to
>>> be given to physical injuries and deformities.
>>>
>>> PERSPECTIVE INCLUDING FORESHORTENING
>>> To minimise perspective issues we need to know the camera and lens
>>> involved. Maintaining a distance from the subject and using a telehoto
>>> lens is preferable to using a short lens and taking the image at very close
>>> quarters, eg in the hand. As for foreshortening, one way around this would
>>> be to create a standard mask with key points plotted on it eg. the ideal
>>> position if the eye, bill base and points where the legs meet the body plus
>>> wing and tail tips and numerous other fixed points on the body. This
>>> defines the measurement template. Only images which closely match and
>>> align with this template would be suitable for measurement comparison. You
>>> could overlay both the Least and Long-toed templates on the same mask.
>>> What you might find is that as few as 1% or less of your 500 data set will
>>> be suitable for comparison using this template. But having a defined
>>> template means that going forward people will know what to look for and at
>>> what angle to photograph subjects in order to compare them to an agreed
>>> standard.
>>>
>>> Lens Distortion
>>> In order to eliminate lens distortion (barrel and pincushion) and ensure
>>> we are looking at a rectilinear image the camera and lens must be known and
>>> there would need to be a background reference as to the risk of lens
>>> distortion. The risk can being minimised by always photographing the
>>> subject in the centre of the lens and only filling the frame about 50%.
>>>
>>> Those are a few initial thoughts on how to tackle this extremely tricky
>>> subject.
>>>
>>> Regards
>>>
>>> Mike O'Keeffe
>>> Ireland
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
>>> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
>>> Sent: 12 July 2015 01:22
>>> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
>>> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
>>>
>>> Hi folks,
>>>
>>> The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about our
>>> initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar species
>>> cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera captures so many
>>> details impossible to see in the field due to the constant fast movement of
>>> these birds or suboptimal viewing conditions. In the field, we identify
>>> birds much more holistically. In photos, we are exposed to many fine
>>> details which can vary dramatically between individuals.
>>>
>>> My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think about
>>> it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with
>>> mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard before
>>> calling it in..." ;-)
>>>
>>> One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of
>>> metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in California to
>>> apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told that they are widely
>>> used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID (and for the review of vagrant
>>> Icelands as well).
>>>
>>> Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc.
>>> It makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and a
>>> short neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for Asians
>>> looking for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can only be used
>>> to establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with its neck extended
>>> is from Least, not the other way around (because Long-toeds don't always
>>> have their necks extended).
>>>
>>> Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:
>>>
>>> A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to shoulder)
>>> B = gape to nape distance of Least C = extended neck length of candidate
>>> Long-toed D = gape to nape distance of candidate Long-toed
>>>
>>> Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B
>>> obtained from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of C/D)
>>>
>>> Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest fully-extended
>>> necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.
>>>
>>> The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation becomes
>>> more accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of apparently
>>> different individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and obtained a maximum
>>> A/B of about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will increase the value, so you
>>> have to be reasonable about which photos you use. It's also not always easy
>>> to determine exactly where the shoulder and auriculars end, so we might
>>> predict some observer-biased variation in this value, perhaps pushing it to
>>> 1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more
>>> precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often
>>> approach 2.0!
>>>
>>> 1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of how
>>> much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I haven't
>>> measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find a difference of
>>> about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and long-necked Least in my
>>> sample of 500.
>>>
>>> You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in
>>> question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended and
>>> increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your test a bit,
>>> because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck fully extended.
>>>
>>> Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas regarding
>>> use of metrics in photos.
>>>
>>> Tristan McKee
>>> Arcata, CA
>>>
>>> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>>>
>>>
>>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Sun Jul 12 2015 12:33 pm
From: atmckee AT gmail.com
 
Also, does anyone have access to small Calidris skeletons? I'd be a bit
surprised if the necks of Long-toed and Least are physically identical. I'm
not sure I'm entirely convinced that these are one anothers' closest
relatives--the plumage similarity could be a striking example of convergent
evolution, or of past hybridization or even past mimicry.

Here's a Least with its neck largely extended:

http://www.danielslim.com/phot...

And a Long-toed:

http://beautyofbirds.com/longt...

Notice that in extended Least, the lower neck takes on a "volcano"
appearance, broad at the base with relatively straight edges and tapering
suddenly to a "pinch" then bulging at the head, which can give the bird a
hunchbacked look. Long-toed with neck extended is "snaky", commonly with a
distinctive arch, with a well-defined "hindneck notch" (present on Least
but less sharply angled) because the crown/nape junction is squared, but
otherwise there is little expansion of the head.

Many thanks,
Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

On Sunday, July 12, 2015, Tristan McKee wrote:

> Hi Mike and all,
>
> Thanks for your thoughts! I just want to clarify that I set up the formula
> so that it doesn't matter at all whether the neck is fully stretched--it's
> a one-way, so if you get a low value, the bird is not identified. The idea
> is just to determine which values are beyond the range of variation of
> Least, should the bird happen to stretch its neck beyond a certain point.
> As you say, lens distortion and foreshortening need to be carefully
> considered.
>
> Tristan McKee'
> Arcata, CA
>
> On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:47 AM, Mike O'Keeffe
> wrote:
>
>> Tristan,
>>
>> You have set a really tough challenge this time!
>>
>> I think direct measurement beats guesswork every time but, as you point
>> out, for starters you have foreshortening... and there are other
>> confounding factors to contend with as outlined below. You have obviously
>> gathered a good sample size which is an important start. I think the way
>> to nail your formula is to create a minimum standard and rule out each of
>> the confounding factors in turn.
>>
>> In an early posting on my blog I explored some factors at work here
>> http://birdingimagequalitytool.blogspot.ie/2014/03/size-matters.html?m=1
>> I intend getting back to this subject but in the meantime here are some
>> initial thoughts.
>>
>> POSTURE
>> Your biggest problem I think will be determining if the neck is fully
>> extended or not. Unlike a bill which is fixed in length the neck is hidden
>> by feathers and varies greatly in length depending on posture. Assuming
>> for a minute that Long-toed Stints do have physically longer necks than
>> Least Sandpipers - how can you be sure an individual LT Stint has it's neck
>> extended all the way. There would need to be some reliable way of
>> determining that the neck is actually extended as far as it needs to be for
>> compatible measurement. You also have to consider overextension.
>> Presumably what you are trying to measure here is the typical, comfortable
>> neck extension shown by a bird that is alert but not over stretching.
>> Again there might be certain things you would need to look for to determine
>> the bird isn't actually overstretching. Lastly consideration would need to
>> be given to physical injuries and deformities.
>>
>> PERSPECTIVE INCLUDING FORESHORTENING
>> To minimise perspective issues we need to know the camera and lens
>> involved. Maintaining a distance from the subject and using a telehoto
>> lens is preferable to using a short lens and taking the image at very close
>> quarters, eg in the hand. As for foreshortening, one way around this would
>> be to create a standard mask with key points plotted on it eg. the ideal
>> position if the eye, bill base and points where the legs meet the body plus
>> wing and tail tips and numerous other fixed points on the body. This
>> defines the measurement template. Only images which closely match and
>> align with this template would be suitable for measurement comparison. You
>> could overlay both the Least and Long-toed templates on the same mask.
>> What you might find is that as few as 1% or less of your 500 data set will
>> be suitable for comparison using this template. But having a defined
>> template means that going forward people will know what to look for and at
>> what angle to photograph subjects in order to compare them to an agreed
>> standard.
>>
>> Lens Distortion
>> In order to eliminate lens distortion (barrel and pincushion) and ensure
>> we are looking at a rectilinear image the camera and lens must be known and
>> there would need to be a background reference as to the risk of lens
>> distortion. The risk can being minimised by always photographing the
>> subject in the centre of the lens and only filling the frame about 50%.
>>
>> Those are a few initial thoughts on how to tackle this extremely tricky
>> subject.
>>
>> Regards
>>
>> Mike O'Keeffe
>> Ireland
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
>> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
>> Sent: 12 July 2015 01:22
>> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
>> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
>>
>> Hi folks,
>>
>> The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about our
>> initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar species
>> cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera captures so many
>> details impossible to see in the field due to the constant fast movement of
>> these birds or suboptimal viewing conditions. In the field, we identify
>> birds much more holistically. In photos, we are exposed to many fine
>> details which can vary dramatically between individuals.
>>
>> My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think about
>> it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with
>> mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard before
>> calling it in..." ;-)
>>
>> One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of
>> metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in California to
>> apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told that they are widely
>> used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID (and for the review of vagrant
>> Icelands as well).
>>
>> Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc.
>> It makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and a
>> short neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for Asians
>> looking for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can only be used
>> to establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with its neck extended
>> is from Least, not the other way around (because Long-toeds don't always
>> have their necks extended).
>>
>> Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:
>>
>> A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to shoulder)
>> B = gape to nape distance of Least C = extended neck length of candidate
>> Long-toed D = gape to nape distance of candidate Long-toed
>>
>> Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B obtained
>> from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of C/D)
>>
>> Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest fully-extended
>> necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.
>>
>> The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation becomes
>> more accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of apparently
>> different individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and obtained a maximum
>> A/B of about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will increase the value, so you
>> have to be reasonable about which photos you use. It's also not always easy
>> to determine exactly where the shoulder and auriculars end, so we might
>> predict some observer-biased variation in this value, perhaps pushing it to
>> 1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more
>> precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often
>> approach 2.0!
>>
>> 1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of how
>> much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I haven't
>> measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find a difference of
>> about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and long-necked Least in my
>> sample of 500.
>>
>> You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in
>> question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended and
>> increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your test a bit,
>> because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck fully extended.
>>
>> Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas regarding
>> use of metrics in photos.
>>
>> Tristan McKee
>> Arcata, CA
>>
>> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>>
>>
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Sun Jul 12 2015 11:00 am
From: atmckee AT gmail.com
 
Hi Mike and all,

Thanks for your thoughts! I just want to clarify that I set up the formula
so that it doesn't matter at all whether the neck is fully stretched--it's
a one-way, so if you get a low value, the bird is not identified. The idea
is just to determine which values are beyond the range of variation of
Least, should the bird happen to stretch its neck beyond a certain point.
As you say, lens distortion and foreshortening need to be carefully
considered.

Tristan McKee'
Arcata, CA

On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:47 AM, Mike O'Keeffe wrote:

> Tristan,
>
> You have set a really tough challenge this time!
>
> I think direct measurement beats guesswork every time but, as you point
> out, for starters you have foreshortening... and there are other
> confounding factors to contend with as outlined below. You have obviously
> gathered a good sample size which is an important start. I think the way
> to nail your formula is to create a minimum standard and rule out each of
> the confounding factors in turn.
>
> In an early posting on my blog I explored some factors at work here
> http://birdingimagequalitytool.blogspot.ie/2014/03/size-matters.html?m=1
> I intend getting back to this subject but in the meantime here are some
> initial thoughts.
>
> POSTURE
> Your biggest problem I think will be determining if the neck is fully
> extended or not. Unlike a bill which is fixed in length the neck is hidden
> by feathers and varies greatly in length depending on posture. Assuming
> for a minute that Long-toed Stints do have physically longer necks than
> Least Sandpipers - how can you be sure an individual LT Stint has it's neck
> extended all the way. There would need to be some reliable way of
> determining that the neck is actually extended as far as it needs to be for
> compatible measurement. You also have to consider overextension.
> Presumably what you are trying to measure here is the typical, comfortable
> neck extension shown by a bird that is alert but not over stretching.
> Again there might be certain things you would need to look for to determine
> the bird isn't actually overstretching. Lastly consideration would need to
> be given to physical injuries and deformities.
>
> PERSPECTIVE INCLUDING FORESHORTENING
> To minimise perspective issues we need to know the camera and lens
> involved. Maintaining a distance from the subject and using a telehoto
> lens is preferable to using a short lens and taking the image at very close
> quarters, eg in the hand. As for foreshortening, one way around this would
> be to create a standard mask with key points plotted on it eg. the ideal
> position if the eye, bill base and points where the legs meet the body plus
> wing and tail tips and numerous other fixed points on the body. This
> defines the measurement template. Only images which closely match and
> align with this template would be suitable for measurement comparison. You
> could overlay both the Least and Long-toed templates on the same mask.
> What you might find is that as few as 1% or less of your 500 data set will
> be suitable for comparison using this template. But having a defined
> template means that going forward people will know what to look for and at
> what angle to photograph subjects in order to compare them to an agreed
> standard.
>
> Lens Distortion
> In order to eliminate lens distortion (barrel and pincushion) and ensure
> we are looking at a rectilinear image the camera and lens must be known and
> there would need to be a background reference as to the risk of lens
> distortion. The risk can being minimised by always photographing the
> subject in the centre of the lens and only filling the frame about 50%.
>
> Those are a few initial thoughts on how to tackle this extremely tricky
> subject.
>
> Regards
>
> Mike O'Keeffe
> Ireland
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
> Sent: 12 July 2015 01:22
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
>
> Hi folks,
>
> The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about our
> initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar species
> cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera captures so many
> details impossible to see in the field due to the constant fast movement of
> these birds or suboptimal viewing conditions. In the field, we identify
> birds much more holistically. In photos, we are exposed to many fine
> details which can vary dramatically between individuals.
>
> My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think about
> it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with
> mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard before
> calling it in..." ;-)
>
> One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of
> metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in California to
> apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told that they are widely
> used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID (and for the review of vagrant
> Icelands as well).
>
> Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc.
> It makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and a
> short neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for Asians
> looking for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can only be used
> to establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with its neck extended
> is from Least, not the other way around (because Long-toeds don't always
> have their necks extended).
>
> Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:
>
> A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to shoulder) B
> = gape to nape distance of Least C = extended neck length of candidate
> Long-toed D = gape to nape distance of candidate Long-toed
>
> Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B obtained
> from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of C/D)
>
> Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest fully-extended
> necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.
>
> The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation becomes more
> accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of apparently different
> individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and obtained a maximum A/B of
> about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will increase the value, so you have
> to be reasonable about which photos you use. It's also not always easy to
> determine exactly where the shoulder and auriculars end, so we might
> predict some observer-biased variation in this value, perhaps pushing it to
> 1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more
> precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often
> approach 2.0!
>
> 1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of how
> much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I haven't
> measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find a difference of
> about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and long-necked Least in my
> sample of 500.
>
> You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in
> question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended and
> increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your test a bit,
> because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck fully extended.
>
> Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas regarding use
> of metrics in photos.
>
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Sun Jul 12 2015 5:48 am
From: okeeffeml AT eircom.net
 
Tristan,

You have set a really tough challenge this time!

I think direct measurement beats guesswork every time but, as you point out, for starters you have foreshortening... and there are other confounding factors to contend with as outlined below. You have obviously gathered a good sample size which is an important start. I think the way to nail your formula is to create a minimum standard and rule out each of the confounding factors in turn.

In an early posting on my blog I explored some factors at work here http://birdingimagequalitytool.blogspot.ie/2014/03/size-matters.html?m=1 I intend getting back to this subject but in the meantime here are some initial thoughts.

POSTURE
Your biggest problem I think will be determining if the neck is fully extended or not. Unlike a bill which is fixed in length the neck is hidden by feathers and varies greatly in length depending on posture. Assuming for a minute that Long-toed Stints do have physically longer necks than Least Sandpipers - how can you be sure an individual LT Stint has it's neck extended all the way. There would need to be some reliable way of determining that the neck is actually extended as far as it needs to be for compatible measurement. You also have to consider overextension. Presumably what you are trying to measure here is the typical, comfortable neck extension shown by a bird that is alert but not over stretching. Again there might be certain things you would need to look for to determine the bird isn't actually overstretching. Lastly consideration would need to be given to physical injuries and deformities.

PERSPECTIVE INCLUDING FORESHORTENING
To minimise perspective issues we need to know the camera and lens involved. Maintaining a distance from the subject and using a telehoto lens is preferable to using a short lens and taking the image at very close quarters, eg in the hand. As for foreshortening, one way around this would be to create a standard mask with key points plotted on it eg. the ideal position if the eye, bill base and points where the legs meet the body plus wing and tail tips and numerous other fixed points on the body. This defines the measurement template. Only images which closely match and align with this template would be suitable for measurement comparison. You could overlay both the Least and Long-toed templates on the same mask. What you might find is that as few as 1% or less of your 500 data set will be suitable for comparison using this template. But having a defined template means that going forward people will know what to look for and at what angle to photograph subjects in or!
der to compare them to an agreed standard.

Lens Distortion
In order to eliminate lens distortion (barrel and pincushion) and ensure we are looking at a rectilinear image the camera and lens must be known and there would need to be a background reference as to the risk of lens distortion. The risk can being minimised by always photographing the subject in the centre of the lens and only filling the frame about 50%.

Those are a few initial thoughts on how to tackle this extremely tricky subject.

Regards

Mike O'Keeffe
Ireland

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
Sent: 12 July 2015 01:22
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: [BIRDWG01] Gulls and stints: metrics in photos

Hi folks,

The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about our initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar species cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera captures so many details impossible to see in the field due to the constant fast movement of these birds or suboptimal viewing conditions. In the field, we identify birds much more holistically. In photos, we are exposed to many fine details which can vary dramatically between individuals.

My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think about it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard before calling it in..." ;-)

One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in California to apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told that they are widely used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID (and for the review of vagrant Icelands as well).

Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc. It makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and a short neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for Asians looking for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can only be used to establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with its neck extended is from Least, not the other way around (because Long-toeds don't always have their necks extended).

Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:

A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to shoulder) B = gape to nape distance of Least C = extended neck length of candidate Long-toed D = gape to nape distance of candidate Long-toed

Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B obtained from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of C/D)

Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest fully-extended necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.

The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation becomes more accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of apparently different individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and obtained a maximum A/B of about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will increase the value, so you have to be reasonable about which photos you use. It's also not always easy to determine exactly where the shoulder and auriculars end, so we might predict some observer-biased variation in this value, perhaps pushing it to
1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often approach 2.0!

1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of how much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I haven't measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find a difference of about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and long-necked Least in my sample of 500.

You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended and increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your test a bit, because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck fully extended.

Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas regarding use of metrics in photos.

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Gulls and stints: metrics in photos
Date: Sat Jul 11 2015 19:40 pm
From: atmckee AT gmail.com
 
Hi folks,

The merged stint/gull thread has been exciting. Peter's point about our
initial reaction to a photo NOT being of our common, familiar species
cannot be overemphasized. It is largely because the camera captures so many
details impossible to see in the field due to the constant fast movement of
these birds or suboptimal viewing conditions. In the field, we identify
birds much more holistically. In photos, we are exposed to many fine
details which can vary dramatically between individuals.

My childhood mentor always said of vagrants, "if you have to think about
it, it's NOT". The unfortunate converse when dealing with
mega-rarities--"even if it IS it, you'd damn well better think hard before
calling it in..." ;-)

One area that I'd like to see explored more explicitly is the use of
metrics in photographs. I've found that it is condemnable in California to
apply such techniques to sandpipers, yet I am told that they are widely
used in Europe for Glaucous/Iceland gull ID (and for the review of vagrant
Icelands as well).

Here's a formula that I'd love to see improved, simplified, tested, etc. It
makes use of the fact that Least Sandpipers have a large head and a short
neck in comparison to Long-toed Stints. Unfortunately for Asians looking
for Least Sandpipers, it is a one-way-ticket: it can only be used to
establish how "different" a potential Long-toed with its neck extended is
from Least, not the other way around (because Long-toeds don't always have
their necks extended).

Extended-neck formula for Long-toed Stint candidates:

A = extended neck length of Least (lower edge of auriculars to shoulder)
B = gape to nape distance of Least
C = extended neck length of candidate Long-toed
D = gape to nape distance of candidate Long-toed

Diagnostic value for candidate Long-toed = (maximum value of A/B obtained
from n individuals)/(average of g independent measurements of C/D)

Thus you find your extreme Leasts (those with the longest fully-extended
necks and/or smallest heads) and compare them to the bird in question.

The good part is that as you score more Leasts, your equation becomes more
accurate. For starters, I used 500 Least images of apparently different
individuals (hard to be sure, of course) and obtained a maximum A/B of
about 1.3. Of course, foreshortening will increase the value, so you have
to be reasonable about which photos you use. It's also not always easy to
determine exactly where the shoulder and auriculars end, so we might
predict some observer-biased variation in this value, perhaps pushing it to
1.4 or 1.5 (ideally, with a larger sample size, we can zero in more
precisely on Least's extreme value). However, Long-toed scores often
approach 2.0!

1 - ((A/B)max)/(C/D) gives you an easily interpretable percentage of how
much the bird differs from the closest Least in your sample. I haven't
measured many Long-toeds yet, but it appears common to find a difference of
about 25% from the most extremely small-headed and long-necked Least in my
sample of 500.

You can also increase the accuracy of your assessment of the bird in
question by using multiple photographs of it with its neck extended and
increasing g. Of course, this will decrease the power of your test a bit,
because some photos may not reflect C/D with its neck fully extended.

Thanks for any help with improving this formula or any ideas regarding use
of metrics in photos.

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Common Tern with many longipennis characteristics -Texas
Date: Sat Jul 11 2015 1:07 am
From: MBB22222 AT aol.com
 
Hi All,

In recent years there were a few terns found in Europe that were posted as
a possible Siberian (Eastern) Common Tern candidates. I think none of these
records were accepted. I checked all photos I was able to find and some,
for example, sport quite red legs. I never saw longipennis but I always
thought that they should have black or dark legs.

On June 2, 2015 I found a Common Tern on Texas coast that is showing many
characteristics of the longipennis subspecies. As this was during sunny,
early afternoon, light was very harsh but this bird in breeding plumage (with
a few white speckles on forehead) stood up in the crowd (~100 COTE flock
mixed with other terns and gulls) not only by its dark bill color but also by
darker shade of grey plumage (both under and upperside) and much darker
legs. All these trait differences are characteristics of longipennis. When I
was checking photos on the computer screen many other traits seemed to
match longipennis traits as well. Doomed head, black crown has more sharply
defined edges, sharper contours behind head, etc. but I do not ‘like’ the
bill structure and shape, and color of the legs, even that they are darker
than those of a typical hirundo. I received feedbacks that this tern looks
good for longipennis but still have too many doubts.

Here is a photo http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image... of this
tern next to rather typical S. h. hirundo taken in very harsh light; no
digital manipulation/adjustments. It was just converted to sRGB to post on the
web. Because legs of both terns were in the shadow I made a composite
adding legs photographed in full, also harsh, light.

I am absolutely not trying to say that this is a longipennis but rather I
think it is either dark billed and dark legged hirundo or perhaps a hybrid
between these two. Again as I do not have experience with longipennis I am
very interested to hear other people opinions.

Cheers,

Mark B Bartosik
Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments
Date: Fri Jul 10 2015 14:11 pm
From: ppyle AT birdpop.org
 
Hi Steve and Al -

Thanks for the comments, which closely reflect my initial reaction to
the bird. In considering all of the concerns raised by Al and after
studying first-cycle Western Gulls in the field and specimen trays
last winter, I came around to the plumage being fine for WEGU in
consideration of some effects of the low light on the images. I
believe that the pale streaking to the neck and upper breast reflects
the bases to juvenile feathers which are exposed due to damp
conditions, with the contrast emphasized by photo effect. It was
evident from field study that this is a fairly normal condition and
appearance. I had the exact same reaction concerning the back feather
fringing but became satisfied that the upperparts of WEGUs in
December can look like those of the Korea bird through specimen
examination. The underwing also can appear pale in photos of WEGU,
especially in certain angles and lighting that produce sheen. The
WEGU at Nial's site that I photographed fledged from a nest in or
near Bolinas Lagoon, central California, and can thus be considered
typical of nominate WEGU. Some additional photos are at Nial's
earlier blog on this bird:
http://www.birdskorea.org/Bird...


If it is not a WEGU what is it? We did consider a dark American
Herring Gull, as Steve suggests. but many aspects of plumage and
structure seemed to exclude this, as discussed at the older site
linked above. Assuming it is not a Slaty-backed Gull, as Nial firmly
believes, I cannot think of what else it could have been without
stretching an ID by a combining a suite of very unlikely features in
any other species.

Al, I agree with your comments in the stint thread about thinking a
bird might be a given species vs. knowing it is when you finally
observe one, a good lesson I've learned the hard way (and the same
applies to ageing birds in the hand). Among gulls and stints I see
sort of a perpendicular occurrence to this, where our first reaction
to a photo is that it is not the common species we are familiar with.
But then when we actually go out and study variation in the common
species, we find that it fits just fine. I don't have a strong
opinion on the identification of the possible Long-toed Stint but,
having gone through this exercise with several other LTST reports,
I've become convinced that we just don't know Least Sandpipers as
well as we should. I wonder the same about our knowledge of first-cycle WEGUs.

Peter

At 07:43 AM 7/9/2015, Steve Hampton wrote:
>I agree with Alvaro. My gut reaction was not Western, though I'd love to
>see better photos. It's general coloration and tone is more Herring-like
>(although photo lighting could certainly affect this). A key character
>would be the tail, as Western is one of the few large gulls that typically
>have nearly solid unmarked outer rectrices (especially from above).
>Unfortunately, there are no photos of this.
>
>
>
>On Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 10:34 PM, Alvaro Jaramillo
>wrote:
>
> > Peter et al.
> > I wish we had better photos to work from, but this does not look like a
> > Western Gull to me. It has an odd mix of being very dark and even colored,
> > and then showing a striking amount of white on the fore neck. That is an
> > odd
> > pattern. The sooty color of the body feathering is not quite right either,
> > gray-brown is typical, but not this dark sooty like it shows in the photos.
> > The point that concerns me the most are the greater coverts which look very
> > even, Westerns have a classic pattern of being dark based and then widely
> > marked with pale subterminally; and this pale area should show up well in
> > at
> > least some of those photos. Other coverts tend to show pale splotching on
> > typical Westerns too. This correlates with the strong white trailing edge
> > to
> > the wing, unfortunately the shots do not show this area so it is impossible
> > to tell if it is there or not. Structurally it looks thin billed to me, and
> > extremely dark billed, no horn coloration on base of lower mandible as you
> > tend to see on Western by winter. But as I said, maybe I am not seeing
> > things due to the photos. Underwing does look too pale to me, I would like
> > to see other photos of Peter's bird too, as that looks too pale as well.
> >
> > Alvaro Jaramillo
> > alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
> > www.alvarosadventures.com
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
> > [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter Pyle
> > Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 9:43 PM
> > To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> > Subject: [BIRDWG01] Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments
> >
> > Hello all -
> >
> > Nial Moores of Birds Korea requests opinion and commentary on a candidate
> > first-cycle Western Gull photographed in Gangneung this past December. I
> > believe it would represent the first record for the Palearctic. Please feel
> > free to comment directly to Nial via the above email address and/or to the
> > group.
> >
> > http://www.birdskoreablog.org/?p214
> >
> > Thanks, Peter
> >
> > Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
> >
> > Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html
> >
>
>
>
>--
>Steve Hampton
>Davis, CA
>
>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Fri Jul 10 2015 1:57 am
From: okeeffeml AT eircom.net
 
All,

Flippant or not I'm sure every birder has had that same revelation when it
comes to many new birds. But if this forum has consistently revealed
anything it is that we often need to resist temptation and in some cases
simply leave a bird unidentified. In the field obviously we have the
nuances of gestalt to aid our cause but within the confines of this forum
usually we are pouring over single or multiple images. So the perspective
is different from inside this bubble. It also has to be said of course that
as we start to split cryptic species and as we discover the potential for
perfect lookalike hybrids (eg. Elegant Terns in Europe) I constantly long
for the good old days where a flippant attitude got me a lot further.

Incidentally, I think we need to consider proper and concise definitions for
terms like field marks, gestalt and perhaps even that instantaneous warm
glow that descends when we see a new bird and realise it's easier to
identify than we feared.

Regards

Mike O'Keeffe
Ireland


-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Blake Mathys
Sent: 09 July 2015 20:46
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

I think Alvaro's suggestion is similar to a blog post I wrote a few years
ago, in which I argued that indecision or "lack of obviousness" could be a
field mark...that when you've got "the real thing", you know it; and if you
don't feel like it's hitting-you-over-the-head obvious, it's probably not.
Now, I realize that this doesn't work for all species or situations, but I
feel it applies in some cases. Here is the post if anyone is interested:
http://blog.aba.org/2011/07/iv...

Blake Mathys
---------------------------------
http://blakemathys.com/
---------------------------------


> Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2015 09:03:36 -0700
> From: chucao@COASTSIDE.NET
> Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
>
> All,
> This may be a flippant attitude, particularly in a group dedicated
> to identification problems and the details involved. But it reminds me
> of a birding friend's story from ages ago at Long Point. When he was
> gaining experience as a birder in England he was looking for a Great
> Snipe. He had tons of almost Great Snipes, tried to convince himself
> that it was, maybe he even counted one. Then he saw a real Great
> Snipe, and it was clearly different, no doubt. All other possible
> Great Snipes went back to being Common Snipes. This story has
> resonated with me. I remember a bunch of us looking for Slaty-backed
> Gull in Half Moon Bay for years (Dave Powell, Ron Thorn, etc) and
> wondering, was this it, was that one it? It took years, but when the
> first one came through - it was obvious. This type of thing has
> happened again and again to me. The first Stejneger's Petrel I saw in
> Chile, after looking for years and trying to convince myself of this and
that, was totally different. I am of the same mind with things like
Long-toed Stint.
> Maybe I will nonchalantly pass over some difficult individuals, maybe,
> but my expectation is that when the real thing arrives it will be
> obvious. After years of looking at Least Sandpiper's I assume that it
> would all come together and there would be no need to have such a high
> level discussion of the ID. Obviously with my attitude I may not be
> seeing details in the photos that are convincing, but in a holistic
> sense, I think it a Long-toed seen well by various observers would not
> need convincing anyone. It should be clear-cut and obvious. Told you
> it was a flippant attitude, and I apologize for that.
>
> Alvaro Jaramillo
> alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
> www.alvarosadventures.com

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 15:08 pm
From: blakemathys AT hotmail.com
 
I think Alvaro's suggestion is similar to a blog post I wrote a few years ago, in which I argued that indecision or "lack of obviousness" could be a field mark...that when you've got "the real thing", you know it; and if you don't feel like it's hitting-you-over-the-head obvious, it's probably not. Now, I realize that this doesn't work for all species or situations, but I feel it applies in some cases. Here is the post if anyone is interested:
http://blog.aba.org/2011/07/iv...

Blake Mathys
---------------------------------
http://blakemathys.com/
---------------------------------


> Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2015 09:03:36 -0700
> From: chucao@COASTSIDE.NET
> Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
>
> All,
> This may be a flippant attitude, particularly in a group dedicated to
> identification problems and the details involved. But it reminds me of a
> birding friend's story from ages ago at Long Point. When he was gaining
> experience as a birder in England he was looking for a Great Snipe. He had
> tons of almost Great Snipes, tried to convince himself that it was, maybe he
> even counted one. Then he saw a real Great Snipe, and it was clearly
> different, no doubt. All other possible Great Snipes went back to being
> Common Snipes. This story has resonated with me. I remember a bunch of us
> looking for Slaty-backed Gull in Half Moon Bay for years (Dave Powell, Ron
> Thorn, etc) and wondering, was this it, was that one it? It took years, but
> when the first one came through - it was obvious. This type of thing has
> happened again and again to me. The first Stejneger's Petrel I saw in Chile,
> after looking for years and trying to convince myself of this and that, was
> totally different. I am of the same mind with things like Long-toed Stint.
> Maybe I will nonchalantly pass over some difficult individuals, maybe, but
> my expectation is that when the real thing arrives it will be obvious. After
> years of looking at Least Sandpiper's I assume that it would all come
> together and there would be no need to have such a high level discussion of
> the ID. Obviously with my attitude I may not be seeing details in the photos
> that are convincing, but in a holistic sense, I think it a Long-toed seen
> well by various observers would not need convincing anyone. It should be
> clear-cut and obvious. Told you it was a flippant attitude, and I apologize
> for that.
>
> Alvaro Jaramillo
> alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
> www.alvarosadventures.com

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 13:26 pm
From: nlethaby AT ti.com
 
Alvaro,

While I often agree these identifications turn out to be easier when one finally sees the "real bird", I am not sure that this is true with the Least/Long-toed pair. I used to see Long-toed regularly in the mid-late 90s and with quite a few individuals I honestly felt I would have no chance of separating them from Least if I saw one in N. America. This was probably more true of spring adults than juveniles. I think some juveniles and a few adults will be fairly obvious in a close study, but many would not be.

Nick

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Alvaro Jaramillo
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2015 9:04 AM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

All,
This may be a flippant attitude, particularly in a group dedicated to identification problems and the details involved. But it reminds me of a birding friend's story from ages ago at Long Point. When he was gaining experience as a birder in England he was looking for a Great Snipe. He had tons of almost Great Snipes, tried to convince himself that it was, maybe he even counted one. Then he saw a real Great Snipe, and it was clearly different, no doubt. All other possible Great Snipes went back to being Common Snipes. This story has resonated with me. I remember a bunch of us looking for Slaty-backed Gull in Half Moon Bay for years (Dave Powell, Ron Thorn, etc) and wondering, was this it, was that one it? It took years, but when the first one came through - it was obvious. This type of thing has happened again and again to me. The first Stejneger's Petrel I saw in Chile, after looking for years and trying to convince myself of this and that, was totally different. I am of !
the same mind with things like Long-toed Stint.
Maybe I will nonchalantly pass over some difficult individuals, maybe, but my expectation is that when the real thing arrives it will be obvious. After years of looking at Least Sandpiper's I assume that it would all come together and there would be no need to have such a high level discussion of the ID. Obviously with my attitude I may not be seeing details in the photos that are convincing, but in a holistic sense, I think it a Long-toed seen well by various observers would not need convincing anyone. It should be clear-cut and obvious. Told you it was a flippant attitude, and I apologize for that.

Alvaro Jaramillo
alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
www.alvarosadventures.com

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Reid Martin
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2015 6:59 AM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

Hey everyone,
A few snippets to throw into the mix:-

Some variation in Least Sand, from Texas; most predate digital photography (= poor image sharpness):

Here is a bird from 2002 with an obvious pale base to the mandible:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

One with a fairly good (but not perfect) head pattern:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

Yet another with a very dark band above the bill base:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

A spring adult with obvious split supercilium:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

A juvenile with striking split supercilia:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

An eye-catching juv. with some similarity to the Salinas bird (but different in a couple of key aspects):
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

An alternate adult with extensive flank and undertail covert streaking:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

And finally the oddest-looking spring Least Sand that I've seen... I really don't know what to make of this bird:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

Should any of you wish to comment on any of these birds, may I suggest using the file name prefix as a reference.

Note that all the above birds show the inner greater covert notch pattern except for LeastSandodd2 and peep8. I feel that this feature is one of the best one-way ID marks, in that any bird with such a notch is almost certainly going to be a Least. A putative Long-toed with this notch would need an otherwise perfect suite of features to compensate for this feature, which seems to be genuinely very rare in Long-toed. I am still trying to get a grasp on the ratio of Leasts with vs without the notch; either the lack of a notch is not as rare as I thought (hoped!), or some of the birds that lack this notch are not Leasts.

One other putative ID feature that I have not seen in this thread (apologies if I missed it) is the pattern of the mantle/back feathers. I think it was Dennis Paulson who told me that on Long-toeds the black centers align to form fairly neat rows of black, while on Least they do not align much, creating a more mottled pattern. I am not sure how reliable this feature is, but I plan to pay more attention to it.

Lastly, I wonder how you all feel about the whole "ID by combination of features" approach? I can see merit in it in some cases, but not others - yet I'm not sure I could provide a lucid argument for why, in each case.
Back in Europe many birders seem happy to use the "feature totting-up"
method to firmly ID some American vagrants, e.g. American HERGs. The notion is that, while one can find individuals of the expected taxon with one of all the suite of stated ID features, you'd find very few with a combination of two or three such features, and the odds of finding one with all or almost all of the features is less than the odds of it being the vagrant form. I am not always comfortable with this approach (depending on whether I saw the bird :-) ), and just how would one make a critical assessment of the odds?

In general, the more I look, the more I find claimed ID features (sometimes in combination) that are less reliable than Conventional Wisdom would have me believe.

Cheers,
Martin

---
Martin Reid
San Antonio
www.martinreid.com






Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

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Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 11:36 am
From: chucao AT coastside.net
 
All,
This may be a flippant attitude, particularly in a group dedicated to
identification problems and the details involved. But it reminds me of a
birding friend's story from ages ago at Long Point. When he was gaining
experience as a birder in England he was looking for a Great Snipe. He had
tons of almost Great Snipes, tried to convince himself that it was, maybe he
even counted one. Then he saw a real Great Snipe, and it was clearly
different, no doubt. All other possible Great Snipes went back to being
Common Snipes. This story has resonated with me. I remember a bunch of us
looking for Slaty-backed Gull in Half Moon Bay for years (Dave Powell, Ron
Thorn, etc) and wondering, was this it, was that one it? It took years, but
when the first one came through - it was obvious. This type of thing has
happened again and again to me. The first Stejneger's Petrel I saw in Chile,
after looking for years and trying to convince myself of this and that, was
totally different. I am of the same mind with things like Long-toed Stint.
Maybe I will nonchalantly pass over some difficult individuals, maybe, but
my expectation is that when the real thing arrives it will be obvious. After
years of looking at Least Sandpiper's I assume that it would all come
together and there would be no need to have such a high level discussion of
the ID. Obviously with my attitude I may not be seeing details in the photos
that are convincing, but in a holistic sense, I think it a Long-toed seen
well by various observers would not need convincing anyone. It should be
clear-cut and obvious. Told you it was a flippant attitude, and I apologize
for that.

Alvaro Jaramillo
alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
www.alvarosadventures.com

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Reid Martin
Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2015 6:59 AM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

Hey everyone,
A few snippets to throw into the mix:-

Some variation in Least Sand, from Texas; most predate digital photography
(= poor image sharpness):

Here is a bird from 2002 with an obvious pale base to the mandible:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

One with a fairly good (but not perfect) head pattern:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

Yet another with a very dark band above the bill base:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

A spring adult with obvious split supercilium:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

A juvenile with striking split supercilia:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

An eye-catching juv. with some similarity to the Salinas bird (but different
in a couple of key aspects):
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

An alternate adult with extensive flank and undertail covert streaking:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

And finally the oddest-looking spring Least Sand that I've seen... I really
don't know what to make of this bird:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

Should any of you wish to comment on any of these birds, may I suggest using
the file name prefix as a reference.

Note that all the above birds show the inner greater covert notch pattern
except for LeastSandodd2 and peep8. I feel that this feature is one of the
best one-way ID marks, in that any bird with such a notch is almost
certainly going to be a Least. A putative Long-toed with this notch would
need an otherwise perfect suite of features to compensate for this feature,
which seems to be genuinely very rare in Long-toed. I am still trying to
get a grasp on the ratio of Leasts with vs without the notch; either the
lack of a notch is not as rare as I thought (hoped!), or some of the birds
that lack this notch are not Leasts.

One other putative ID feature that I have not seen in this thread (apologies
if I missed it) is the pattern of the mantle/back feathers. I think it was
Dennis Paulson who told me that on Long-toeds the black centers align to
form fairly neat rows of black, while on Least they do not align much,
creating a more mottled pattern. I am not sure how reliable this feature
is, but I plan to pay more attention to it.

Lastly, I wonder how you all feel about the whole "ID by combination of
features" approach? I can see merit in it in some cases, but not others -
yet I'm not sure I could provide a lucid argument for why, in each case.
Back in Europe many birders seem happy to use the "feature totting-up"
method to firmly ID some American vagrants, e.g. American HERGs. The notion
is that, while one can find individuals of the expected taxon with one of
all the suite of stated ID features, you'd find very few with a combination
of two or three such features, and the odds of finding one with all or
almost all of the features is less than the odds of it being the vagrant
form. I am not always comfortable with this approach (depending on whether
I saw the bird :-) ), and just how would one make a critical assessment of
the odds?

In general, the more I look, the more I find claimed ID features (sometimes
in combination) that are less reliable than Conventional Wisdom would have
me believe.

Cheers,
Martin

---
Martin Reid
San Antonio
www.martinreid.com






Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 10:23 am
From: stevechampton AT gmail.com
 
I agree with Alvaro.  My gut reaction was not Western, though I'd love to
see better photos. It's general coloration and tone is more Herring-like
(although photo lighting could certainly affect this). A key character
would be the tail, as Western is one of the few large gulls that typically
have nearly solid unmarked outer rectrices (especially from above).
Unfortunately, there are no photos of this.



On Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 10:34 PM, Alvaro Jaramillo
wrote:

> Peter et al.
> I wish we had better photos to work from, but this does not look like a
> Western Gull to me. It has an odd mix of being very dark and even colored,
> and then showing a striking amount of white on the fore neck. That is an
> odd
> pattern. The sooty color of the body feathering is not quite right either,
> gray-brown is typical, but not this dark sooty like it shows in the photos.
> The point that concerns me the most are the greater coverts which look very
> even, Westerns have a classic pattern of being dark based and then widely
> marked with pale subterminally; and this pale area should show up well in
> at
> least some of those photos. Other coverts tend to show pale splotching on
> typical Westerns too. This correlates with the strong white trailing edge
> to
> the wing, unfortunately the shots do not show this area so it is impossible
> to tell if it is there or not. Structurally it looks thin billed to me, and
> extremely dark billed, no horn coloration on base of lower mandible as you
> tend to see on Western by winter. But as I said, maybe I am not seeing
> things due to the photos. Underwing does look too pale to me, I would like
> to see other photos of Peter's bird too, as that looks too pale as well.
>
> Alvaro Jaramillo
> alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
> www.alvarosadventures.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
> [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter Pyle
> Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 9:43 PM
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments
>
> Hello all -
>
> Nial Moores of Birds Korea requests opinion and commentary on a candidate
> first-cycle Western Gull photographed in Gangneung this past December. I
> believe it would represent the first record for the Palearctic. Please feel
> free to comment directly to Nial via the above email address and/or to the
> group.
>
> http://www.birdskoreablog.org/?p214
>
> Thanks, Peter
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html
>



--
Steve Hampton
Davis, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 9:49 am
From: upupa AT airmail.net
 
Hey everyone,
A few snippets to throw into the mix:-

Some variation in Least Sand, from Texas; most predate digital photography (= poor image sharpness):

Here is a bird from 2002 with an obvious pale base to the mandible:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

One with a fairly good (but not perfect) head pattern:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

Yet another with a very dark band above the bill base:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

A spring adult with obvious split supercilium:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

A juvenile with striking split supercilia:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

An eye-catching juv. with some similarity to the Salinas bird (but different in a couple of key aspects):
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

An alternate adult with extensive flank and undertail covert streaking:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

And finally the oddest-looking spring Least Sand that I've seen... I really don't know what to make of this bird:
http://www.martinreid.com/Main...

Should any of you wish to comment on any of these birds, may I suggest using the file name prefix as a reference.

Note that all the above birds show the inner greater covert notch pattern except for LeastSandodd2 and peep8. I feel that this feature is one of the best one-way ID marks, in that any bird with such a notch is almost certainly going to be a Least. A putative Long-toed with this notch would need an otherwise perfect suite of features to compensate for this feature, which seems to be genuinely very rare in Long-toed. I am still trying to get a grasp on the ratio of Leasts with vs without the notch; either the lack of a notch is not as rare as I thought (hoped!), or some of the birds that lack this notch are not Leasts.

One other putative ID feature that I have not seen in this thread (apologies if I missed it) is the pattern of the mantle/back feathers. I think it was Dennis Paulson who told me that on Long-toeds the black centers align to form fairly neat rows of black, while on Least they do not align much, creating a more mottled pattern. I am not sure how reliable this feature is, but I plan to pay more attention to it.

Lastly, I wonder how you all feel about the whole "ID by combination of features" approach? I can see merit in it in some cases, but not others - yet I'm not sure I could provide a lucid argument for why, in each case. Back in Europe many birders seem happy to use the "feature totting-up" method to firmly ID some American vagrants, e.g. American HERGs. The notion is that, while one can find individuals of the expected taxon with one of all the suite of stated ID features, you'd find very few with a combination of two or three such features, and the odds of finding one with all or almost all of the features is less than the odds of it being the vagrant form. I am not always comfortable with this approach (depending on whether I saw the bird :-) ), and just how would one make a critical assessment of the odds?

In general, the more I look, the more I find claimed ID features (sometimes in combination) that are less reliable than Conventional Wisdom would have me believe.

Cheers,
Martin

---
Martin Reid
San Antonio
www.martinreid.com






Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 1:00 am
From: chucao AT coastside.net
 
Peter et al.
I wish we had better photos to work from, but this does not look like a
Western Gull to me. It has an odd mix of being very dark and even colored,
and then showing a striking amount of white on the fore neck. That is an odd
pattern. The sooty color of the body feathering is not quite right either,
gray-brown is typical, but not this dark sooty like it shows in the photos.
The point that concerns me the most are the greater coverts which look very
even, Westerns have a classic pattern of being dark based and then widely
marked with pale subterminally; and this pale area should show up well in at
least some of those photos. Other coverts tend to show pale splotching on
typical Westerns too. This correlates with the strong white trailing edge to
the wing, unfortunately the shots do not show this area so it is impossible
to tell if it is there or not. Structurally it looks thin billed to me, and
extremely dark billed, no horn coloration on base of lower mandible as you
tend to see on Western by winter. But as I said, maybe I am not seeing
things due to the photos. Underwing does look too pale to me, I would like
to see other photos of Peter's bird too, as that looks too pale as well.

Alvaro Jaramillo
alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
www.alvarosadventures.com

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter Pyle
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 9:43 PM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: [BIRDWG01] Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments

Hello all -

Nial Moores of Birds Korea requests opinion and commentary on a candidate
first-cycle Western Gull photographed in Gangneung this past December. I
believe it would represent the first record for the Palearctic. Please feel
free to comment directly to Nial via the above email address and/or to the
group.

http://www.birdskoreablog.org/?p214

Thanks, Peter

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Western Gull in Korea-- request for comments
Date: Thu Jul 9 2015 0:17 am
From: ppyle AT birdpop.org
 
Hello all -

Nial Moores of Birds Korea requests opinion and commentary on a
candidate first-cycle Western Gull photographed in Gangneung this
past December. I believe it would represent the first record for the
Palearctic. Please feel free to comment directly to Nial via the
above email address and/or to the group.

http://www.birdskoreablog.org/?p214

Thanks, Peter

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Wed Jul 8 2015 17:01 pm
From: nlethaby AT ti.com
 
The Salinas bird doesn't show the mantle pattern typical of many Long-toed Stints IMO. I haven't done the math on the toe length but I am not 100% sold on that bird being a Long-toed Stint. The Oregon juvenile from back then is a lot more convincing.

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 11:31 AM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

Hi Julian and Noah,

While I would also conclude that Leasts can look like the Nebraska bird, I am always fascinated to see these individuals and to learn what they can teach us about Long-toed Stint identification. I think it is especially crucial to document birds with odd facial patterns because, for the last two decades, this highly variable trait has been the standard way to "confirm" a Long-toed Stint in North America. It just doesn't work.

Julian, thanks for your thoughts on the California birds. I'm very curious to hear what it is about the 1988 Salinas photos that makes you feel it was a Long-toed Stint. It is easy to go through the Western Birds paper and match every trait they used to identify the bird with photos of otherwise typical Leasts showing those traits. Yes, only a rare Least is going to combine all those characteristics, but we see many thousands of Leasts--isn't that rare Least still going to be more common than a Long-toed Stint?

http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
http://greglasley.com/longtost...
http://wfopublications.org/Rar...

The toes appear about normal for Least to me, certainly within the range of both species. There is also the bulging head and rounded crown, fairly different from the typical "snaky" look of Long-toed. In none of the photos is the classic structure of Long-toed evident--indeed, in some the neck looks extended and is far too short. I'm glad to hear that you have seen Long-toeds with dark coming down into the auriculars, but wouldn't it be much more comforting if the bird didn't have that? I was also told that a forehead that pale is pretty bad for Long-toed, though I have found an occasional photo that looked similar from Asia. It has been pointed out to me that Long-toed is an exceptionally rare, accidental vagrant south of Alaska, so for a record to stand it should be accompanied by absolutely diagnostic photos. I think observers back then honestly believed that Leasts could not show a facial pattern like this or that kind of scapular-covert contrast, or shafts streaks break!
ing through the tips of the scapulars and coverts, etc, simply because their sample sizes were too small--they didn't have access to the thousands of Least Sandpiper photos now available.

I agree with Noah that we have absolutely no evidence to say whether or not there is a hybrid zone in the Bering Sea area. With overlap already occurring in nearly all characteristics, there may never be a way to tell.
The only thing I can say is that when you ask if birds are hybridizing, the answer usually turns out to be "yes".

Here are a few examples of Leasts with "Long-toed" traits:

Bulging forward supercilium half-encircled by connection of loral line and
forehead:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Small head with shallow forehead and slightly squared nape, long legs:

http://www.birdforum.net/opus/...

Especially long legs:

http://www.birdspix.com/north-...

Broken loral line connected to dark forehead, bold white supercilium, white edges to coverts contrasting with scapulars:

http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/c...

Nice split supercilium, broken loral line, whitish edges to coverts contrasting with scapulars:

http://indianajones.smugmug.co...

Toes as long as bill and tarsus, shaft streaks breaking through covert and scapular tips:

http://10a8t53m3jvw1jdy2mmh3d3...

Short bill, long legs:

http://www.scilogs.com/manirap...

Exceptionally long, pointed scapulars (scroll down):

http://www.bradjameswildlifeph...

Contrasting gray hindneck:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Shafts streaks breaking through tips on coverts and scapulars:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Many thanks for any help with this odd conundrum,

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Wed Jul 8 2015 16:03 pm
From: jrhough1 AT snet.net
 
Tristan,
Thanks for the reply. You've obviously got a lot of free time on your hands! :)Joking aside, I think that there are some features that Least Sands can show that, in isolation, may be suggestive of Long-toed and your thorough scouring of the web has thrown up some examples. Looking at a couple of your links to images of Leasts showing some Long-toed traits, I still found most of the images to show a standard Least Sandpiper in most respects. My mental blueprint of juvenile Long-toed is pretty much burned in my mind as how I expect one to look should I come across one. Of course, this is a purely subjective and personal imprint, but when I look at these photos, none match it.
Long-toed superficially recalls White-rumped Sandpiper to me, perhaps due to the bill with that nice, orangey base. The face looks a bit more "open" with a small, thin loral stripe a bulging pale loral supercilium, which results in a more "clean-faced" look and makes the eye stand out more. The ground color to the crown streaks and scap edgings seem to be more orange-toned, less chestnut/rufous and give a different overall color to many images I have seen. The wing coverts on some of the Leasts you reference, showed the shaft streak bisecting the feather edge but the effect was still of a feather with a pale fringe around the tip, whereas on many images of Long-toed, the dark centre of the feather bisects the pale fringe in a broader manner to produce a feather that is dark-tipped and clearly edged (not fringed) paler, more whitish (less rufousy) on each side.
I think that Richard Webster and many of the accomplished birders at the time that worked out the Salinas, CA bird did a good job and got it right. I agree with their id and I think it shows all the typical features you would want to check-off on a putative Long-toed. It doesn't fit Least to my eyes – the head pattern in particular is spot on for Long-toed.
Judging bill size and toe length is tough in images, so I have no comment on those..other than I would want to see them projecting past the tail in flight!
Best, Julian Hough
New Haven, CT 06519
www.naturescapeimages.wordpress.com


On Wednesday, July 8, 2015 3:02 PM, Tristan McKee wrote:


Hi Julian and Noah,

While I would also conclude that Leasts can look like the Nebraska bird, I
am always fascinated to see these individuals and to learn what they can
teach us about Long-toed Stint identification. I think it is especially
crucial to document birds with odd facial patterns because, for the last
two decades, this highly variable trait has been the standard way to
"confirm" a Long-toed Stint in North America. It just doesn't work.

Julian, thanks for your thoughts on the California birds. I'm very curious
to hear what it is about the 1988 Salinas photos that makes you feel it was
a Long-toed Stint. It is easy to go through the Western Birds paper and
match every trait they used to identify the bird with photos of otherwise
typical Leasts showing those traits. Yes, only a rare Least is going to
combine all those characteristics, but we see many thousands of
Leasts--isn't that rare Least still going to be more common than a
Long-toed Stint?

http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
http://greglasley.com/longtost...
http://wfopublications.org/Rar...

The toes appear about normal for Least to me, certainly within the range of
both species. There is also the bulging head and rounded crown, fairly
different from the typical "snaky" look of Long-toed. In none of the photos
is the classic structure of Long-toed evident--indeed, in some the neck
looks extended and is far too short. I'm glad to hear that you have seen
Long-toeds with dark coming down into the auriculars, but wouldn't it be
much more comforting if the bird didn't have that? I was also told that a
forehead that pale is pretty bad for Long-toed, though I have found an
occasional photo that looked similar from Asia. It has been pointed out to
me that Long-toed is an exceptionally rare, accidental vagrant south of
Alaska, so for a record to stand it should be accompanied by absolutely
diagnostic photos. I think observers back then honestly believed that
Leasts could not show a facial pattern like this or that kind of
scapular-covert contrast, or shafts streaks breaking through the tips of
the scapulars and coverts, etc, simply because their sample sizes were too
small--they didn't have access to the thousands of Least Sandpiper photos
now available.

I agree with Noah that we have absolutely no evidence to say whether or not
there is a hybrid zone in the Bering Sea area. With overlap already
occurring in nearly all characteristics, there may never be a way to tell.
The only thing I can say is that when you ask if birds are hybridizing, the
answer usually turns out to be "yes".

Here are a few examples of Leasts with "Long-toed" traits:

Bulging forward supercilium half-encircled by connection of loral line and
forehead:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Small head with shallow forehead and slightly squared nape, long legs:

http://www.birdforum.net/opus/...

Especially long legs:

http://www.birdspix.com/north-...

Broken loral line connected to dark forehead, bold white supercilium, white
edges to coverts contrasting with scapulars:

http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/c...

Nice split supercilium, broken loral line, whitish edges to coverts
contrasting with scapulars:

http://indianajones.smugmug.co...

Toes as long as bill and tarsus, shaft streaks breaking through covert and
scapular tips:

http://10a8t53m3jvw1jdy2mmh3d3...

Short bill, long legs:

http://www.scilogs.com/manirap...

Exceptionally long, pointed scapulars (scroll down):

http://www.bradjameswildlifeph...

Contrasting gray hindneck:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Shafts streaks breaking through tips on coverts and scapulars:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Many thanks for any help with this odd conundrum,

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...


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Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Wed Jul 8 2015 13:57 pm
From: atmckee AT gmail.com
 
Hi Julian and Noah,

While I would also conclude that Leasts can look like the Nebraska bird, I
am always fascinated to see these individuals and to learn what they can
teach us about Long-toed Stint identification. I think it is especially
crucial to document birds with odd facial patterns because, for the last
two decades, this highly variable trait has been the standard way to
"confirm" a Long-toed Stint in North America. It just doesn't work.

Julian, thanks for your thoughts on the California birds. I'm very curious
to hear what it is about the 1988 Salinas photos that makes you feel it was
a Long-toed Stint. It is easy to go through the Western Birds paper and
match every trait they used to identify the bird with photos of otherwise
typical Leasts showing those traits. Yes, only a rare Least is going to
combine all those characteristics, but we see many thousands of
Leasts--isn't that rare Least still going to be more common than a
Long-toed Stint?

http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
http://greglasley.com/longtost...
http://wfopublications.org/Rar...

The toes appear about normal for Least to me, certainly within the range of
both species. There is also the bulging head and rounded crown, fairly
different from the typical "snaky" look of Long-toed. In none of the photos
is the classic structure of Long-toed evident--indeed, in some the neck
looks extended and is far too short. I'm glad to hear that you have seen
Long-toeds with dark coming down into the auriculars, but wouldn't it be
much more comforting if the bird didn't have that? I was also told that a
forehead that pale is pretty bad for Long-toed, though I have found an
occasional photo that looked similar from Asia. It has been pointed out to
me that Long-toed is an exceptionally rare, accidental vagrant south of
Alaska, so for a record to stand it should be accompanied by absolutely
diagnostic photos. I think observers back then honestly believed that
Leasts could not show a facial pattern like this or that kind of
scapular-covert contrast, or shafts streaks breaking through the tips of
the scapulars and coverts, etc, simply because their sample sizes were too
small--they didn't have access to the thousands of Least Sandpiper photos
now available.

I agree with Noah that we have absolutely no evidence to say whether or not
there is a hybrid zone in the Bering Sea area. With overlap already
occurring in nearly all characteristics, there may never be a way to tell.
The only thing I can say is that when you ask if birds are hybridizing, the
answer usually turns out to be "yes".

Here are a few examples of Leasts with "Long-toed" traits:

Bulging forward supercilium half-encircled by connection of loral line and
forehead:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Small head with shallow forehead and slightly squared nape, long legs:

http://www.birdforum.net/opus/...

Especially long legs:

http://www.birdspix.com/north-...

Broken loral line connected to dark forehead, bold white supercilium, white
edges to coverts contrasting with scapulars:

http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/c...

Nice split supercilium, broken loral line, whitish edges to coverts
contrasting with scapulars:

http://indianajones.smugmug.co...

Toes as long as bill and tarsus, shaft streaks breaking through covert and
scapular tips:

http://10a8t53m3jvw1jdy2mmh3d3...

Short bill, long legs:

http://www.scilogs.com/manirap...

Exceptionally long, pointed scapulars (scroll down):

http://www.bradjameswildlifeph...

Contrasting gray hindneck:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Shafts streaks breaking through tips on coverts and scapulars:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

Many thanks for any help with this odd conundrum,

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Wed Jul 8 2015 10:19 am
From: jrhough1 AT snet.net
 
Hi Noah,
To me, without meaning to sound dismissive, if I had seen this in CT  I would call this a fairly typical Least based on structure and plumage. I have not seen Long-toed in a long, long time so this is mainly based on a solid comparison with Least  – I don't see anything too odd to make me think Long-toed  - or a hybrid.  The bill is fairly short, but bill size varies among individuals and sexes, so it may just be a male Least. The fine-tipped, slightly decurved bill  lacking a pale base doesn't fit Long-toed to me. The wing-covert pattern, scalloped pattern to the greater coverts combined with the compact, neckless structure and plumage color fit Least to my eyes.
The head pattern, with the dark crown reaching the forehead is within variation of Least. I specifically looked at this feature on many Leasts in Cape May in the early 90s and saw a few like this. Also, on a typical juv Long-toed, the pattern of the dark bleeds onto the front of the lores, so that the supercilium doesn't even reach the bill base creating a slightly different look than this bird  - evident in many pix that you can find online.
As for variation, some adult Long-toed's that I saw in China in spring also had a noticeable darker cheek patch similar to many Leasts and some Leasts I have seen have shown a paler base to the lower mandible suggestive of Long-toed:https://naturescapeimages.word...
Long-toed is a bird I would love to see (or find) on the east coast!
Best,
Julian Julian Hough
New Haven, CT 06519
www.naturescapeimages.wordpress.com


On Tuesday, July 7, 2015 10:48 PM, Noah Arthur wrote:


Here's a yellow-legged peep I found in Nebraska last fall that I thought
looked like a potential LeastXLong-toed hybrid:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

This was a fresh juvenile, but that hasn't made the ID any easier! As far
as I can tell, this guy is just about perfectly intermediate between Least
and Long-toed. What first caught my eye was the dark forehead (from what
I've heard, this is highly suggestive if not definitive for Long-toed in
juv plumage). But Least-like wing patterning made me shy away from pure
Long-toed. The head, however, looks oddly small, unlike any other Least
I've seen. I haven't yet submitted this bird to the Nebraska records
committee as Long-toed or hybrid; not sure they would evaluate a hybrid
record anyway...

Pro-Long-toed features, in order of importance:
- Small head -- Diagnostic for Long-toed?
- Dark forehead cutting off supercilium and connecting with dark eye-stripe
-- Diagnostic for Long-toed?
- Sharply-defined dark rufous cap
- Very short fine-tipped bill

Pro-Least features, in order of importance:
- Rusty covert borders -- Diagnostic for Least?
- Notched greater covert borders -- Diagnostic for Least? (but is this as
diagnostic on juvs as on alt adults?)
- Thin tertial borders -- Diagnostic for Least?
- Rather extensive dark cheek-patch extending to eye
- Squatty posture (but this might not mean anything on a bird foraging in
mud rather than water?)

I don't know much about this ID issue, and I may be overlooking some
obvious features that could tip the scales one way or the other. But to me
this looks like a genuinely intermediate bird! I do wonder if there's a
small hybrid zone somewhere in the Bering Sea region of Alaska or
Siberia... I'd be interested to see what your take is on this bird, Tristan.

Noah


On Mon, Jul 6, 2015 at 9:00 PM, Tristan McKee wrote:

> Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint candidate
> in California, I have been staying up all night collecting thousands of
> publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying the visible traits
> for the past week. This project has become too large to complete before
> stint season begins to wane, but in the meantime, a few Californians have
> been putting their heads together to hash out these traits, and I'd like to
> broaden this discussion to a wider audience and share a few surprising
> results. First let me assure you that I am not putting names to any vagrant
> stints in this post, but rather underlining the variation within the normal
> ranges of a few species and pointing out some intriguing photos that can be
> seen on the internet.
>
> For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken Burton,
> Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott Terrill, Peter
> Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, John Sterling, and
> Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them necessarily endorses what I
> have to say!
>
> Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an interesting
> bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while collecting "Least
> Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs, this bird is clearly
> either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:
>
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0...
>
> Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I note
> the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the European
> literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):
>
> --Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
> --Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and rusty
> collar.
> --Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
> --Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are mostly
> indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
> --broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct
> anchor-markings.
> --Back more striped than scaled.
> --Somewhat-split supercilium.
> --Fairly thin-tipped bill.
> --Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the
> tertials.
>
> Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a few
> images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:
>
>
> http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...
>
> http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...
>
> (scroll to juvenile):
> http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...
>
> I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be
> reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on Little
> Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.
>
> Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per year,
> I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the range of
> variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to ensure that you
> are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples used to describe
> variation within a common species! I dug for images of similar Semis and
> only found these two (though there were many darker "bright Semis"):
>
> (scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
> http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...
>
> and:
> http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...
>
> Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more white
> tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more diffuse
> streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so they are
> easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has a very
> fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I seeing rock
> between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I zoom in? It is
> not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the place, but I have become
> leery of folks making extravagant claims about variation within a common
> species without ensuring that their samples are free of vagrants and
> hybrids.
>
> This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint fever,
> which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least Sandpiper
> neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and plumage all at once:
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of
> Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium (very
> nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and the
> central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low while
> feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than expected for
> Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer than any Least
> present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I have ever come across
> and slightly longer than the tarsus.
>
> Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and after
> watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see that the
> confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to stem from the
> paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the mud, their long
> tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus the ankle is bent
> sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly feathers, and the bird
> often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy. On the other hand, the long
> tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep water (which most Leasts do not
> seem very fond of), and they stand up straight and then arch their necks to
> pick up food. Of course, they also stand up straight and tall when alert,
> like most shorebirds. Either way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.
>
> Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the
> Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):
>
> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0mzenyOAs_4
>
> Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic
> traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or try
> to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding the
> variation in fully?
>
> Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories based on
> all the available literature, the contributions of the folks I mentioned
> above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500 individuals of each
> species in various plumages (as well as my experience of picking through
> Leasts for twenty years looking for Long-toed traits, which has never
> produced a bird that looked like a Long-toed-like to me before):
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
> --Notched greater covert borders
>
> Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed population:
> --Central toe not obviously longer than bill
> --Supercilium meets bill (but does not cross forehead)
> --Longish bill
> --Entirely black bill
> --Almost Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
> --Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in water,
> caused by long neck and tibia.
> --Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
> --Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower edge
> of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).
>
> Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
> --Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as opposed
> to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white appearance of
> nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
> --Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
> --Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
> --Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
> --Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail
> coverts).
> --Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.
>
> Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least population:
> --rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
> --loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
> --olive-green legs.
>
> Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
> --dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior
> auriculars.
> --Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically has
> blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and cinnamon, buff,
> off-white, or pale gray fringes).
> --thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture when
> foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's longer
> tibia) and a very short rear end.
>
> Traits not particularly good for either species:
> --Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.
>
> Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the ratio
> of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the lower edge
> of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be very close to one
> on all the Leasts I measured in this position. Occasionally a Least managed
> 1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures look like at their very best:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the gape-nape
> distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch when feeding in
> deep water:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with all-black
> bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with heavily marked
> underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the middle toe (none too
> hard to find), as well as all the photos of Leasts with pale bases to their
> lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with strong contrast between the coverts
> and scapulars, etc.. I should probably linger for a moment on head pattern
> since it has become such a popular tool, but the difficulty of using it on
> summer adults (with both species regularly showing the pattern associated
> with the other) was elaborated upon by Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:
>
>
> http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
> .
>
> (and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial patterns,
> based on occasional photos).
>
> For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received well in
> North America:
>
> Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1
>
> and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium reaching to
> the bill on the second:
> http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...
>
> and again, the forward supercilium:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=birdspecies&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Image_ID=27859&Bird_Family_ID=138
>
> and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
>
> http://indianajones.smugmug.co...
>
> Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable variation in
> this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that matches the Little
> River bird exactly. The black center of alternate-type feathers varies from
> barely more than a shaft streak to a full black center, and the shaft
> streak may or may not noticeably break through at the tip. The edges can be
> white, buff, rufous, or any combination of these colors, and there are
> sometimes small notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh alternate
> feathers sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall adults are
> more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves expand inward as
> the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way in to the shaft.
> Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent on
> what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing (as in
> molt bars).
>
> Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River bird, is
> equally odd for Long-toed:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of looking
> at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos illustrating this
> variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds with apparently mixed
> traits.
>
> The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have
> examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds looked
> like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all North
> American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts in
> numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:
>
>
> http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...
>
> Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and
> caused uncertainty in the field too.
>
> If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for it,
> and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as pure
> Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted record, from
> 1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to me (though I have
> only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might change that).
>
> http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
>
> and:
> http://greglasley.com/longtost...
>
> and:
> http://wfopublications.org/Rar...
>
> My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched, in
> which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of having a
> thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at the head, and
> in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical Long-toed look is
> more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to have classic Least
> toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds with toes this short. The
> supercilium and covert-scapular contrast look good for Long-toed but can
> approximated by juvenile Leasts. The dark centers of the wing coverts of
> Least commonly break through as the tips wear away. The head in most shots
> looks small--excellent for Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the
> nape--also good--but in others it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to
> the lower mandible is not very helpful and judging the distinctness of the
> call is somewhat subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of
> pitches. The postocular smudge extends down in the posterior auriculars
> (rather than just being an eye-stripe), a pattern attributed to Least in
> the literature. Nonetheless, I am inclined to assume this small set of
> photos is misleading, and the perceptions of the many brilliant birders who
> saw the bird in real life are more accurate.
>
> To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering
> hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited
> meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
> Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely must
> lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption with
> vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably intermediate
> navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the influences of their
> partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they choose.
>
> Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a good
> feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.
>
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>

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Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Tue Jul 7 2015 21:29 pm
From: semirelicta AT gmail.com
 
Here's a yellow-legged peep I found in Nebraska last fall that I thought
looked like a potential LeastXLong-toed hybrid:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

This was a fresh juvenile, but that hasn't made the ID any easier! As far
as I can tell, this guy is just about perfectly intermediate between Least
and Long-toed. What first caught my eye was the dark forehead (from what
I've heard, this is highly suggestive if not definitive for Long-toed in
juv plumage). But Least-like wing patterning made me shy away from pure
Long-toed. The head, however, looks oddly small, unlike any other Least
I've seen. I haven't yet submitted this bird to the Nebraska records
committee as Long-toed or hybrid; not sure they would evaluate a hybrid
record anyway...

Pro-Long-toed features, in order of importance:
- Small head -- Diagnostic for Long-toed?
- Dark forehead cutting off supercilium and connecting with dark eye-stripe
-- Diagnostic for Long-toed?
- Sharply-defined dark rufous cap
- Very short fine-tipped bill

Pro-Least features, in order of importance:
- Rusty covert borders -- Diagnostic for Least?
- Notched greater covert borders -- Diagnostic for Least? (but is this as
diagnostic on juvs as on alt adults?)
- Thin tertial borders -- Diagnostic for Least?
- Rather extensive dark cheek-patch extending to eye
- Squatty posture (but this might not mean anything on a bird foraging in
mud rather than water?)

I don't know much about this ID issue, and I may be overlooking some
obvious features that could tip the scales one way or the other. But to me
this looks like a genuinely intermediate bird! I do wonder if there's a
small hybrid zone somewhere in the Bering Sea region of Alaska or
Siberia... I'd be interested to see what your take is on this bird, Tristan.

Noah


On Mon, Jul 6, 2015 at 9:00 PM, Tristan McKee wrote:

> Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint candidate
> in California, I have been staying up all night collecting thousands of
> publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying the visible traits
> for the past week. This project has become too large to complete before
> stint season begins to wane, but in the meantime, a few Californians have
> been putting their heads together to hash out these traits, and I'd like to
> broaden this discussion to a wider audience and share a few surprising
> results. First let me assure you that I am not putting names to any vagrant
> stints in this post, but rather underlining the variation within the normal
> ranges of a few species and pointing out some intriguing photos that can be
> seen on the internet.
>
> For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken Burton,
> Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott Terrill, Peter
> Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, John Sterling, and
> Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them necessarily endorses what I
> have to say!
>
> Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an interesting
> bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while collecting "Least
> Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs, this bird is clearly
> either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:
>
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0...
>
> Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I note
> the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the European
> literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):
>
> --Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
> --Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and rusty
> collar.
> --Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
> --Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are mostly
> indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
> --broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct
> anchor-markings.
> --Back more striped than scaled.
> --Somewhat-split supercilium.
> --Fairly thin-tipped bill.
> --Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the
> tertials.
>
> Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a few
> images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:
>
>
> http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...
>
> http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...
>
> (scroll to juvenile):
> http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...
>
> I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be
> reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on Little
> Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.
>
> Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per year,
> I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the range of
> variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to ensure that you
> are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples used to describe
> variation within a common species! I dug for images of similar Semis and
> only found these two (though there were many darker "bright Semis"):
>
> (scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
> http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...
>
> and:
> http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...
>
> Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more white
> tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more diffuse
> streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so they are
> easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has a very
> fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I seeing rock
> between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I zoom in? It is
> not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the place, but I have become
> leery of folks making extravagant claims about variation within a common
> species without ensuring that their samples are free of vagrants and
> hybrids.
>
> This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint fever,
> which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least Sandpiper
> neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and plumage all at once:
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of
> Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium (very
> nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and the
> central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low while
> feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than expected for
> Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer than any Least
> present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I have ever come across
> and slightly longer than the tarsus.
>
> Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and after
> watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see that the
> confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to stem from the
> paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the mud, their long
> tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus the ankle is bent
> sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly feathers, and the bird
> often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy. On the other hand, the long
> tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep water (which most Leasts do not
> seem very fond of), and they stand up straight and then arch their necks to
> pick up food. Of course, they also stand up straight and tall when alert,
> like most shorebirds. Either way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.
>
> Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the
> Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):
>
> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0mzenyOAs_4
>
> Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic
> traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or try
> to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding the
> variation in fully?
>
> Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories based on
> all the available literature, the contributions of the folks I mentioned
> above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500 individuals of each
> species in various plumages (as well as my experience of picking through
> Leasts for twenty years looking for Long-toed traits, which has never
> produced a bird that looked like a Long-toed-like to me before):
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
> --Notched greater covert borders
>
> Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed population:
> --Central toe not obviously longer than bill
> --Supercilium meets bill (but does not cross forehead)
> --Longish bill
> --Entirely black bill
> --Almost Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
> --Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in water,
> caused by long neck and tibia.
> --Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
> --Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower edge
> of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).
>
> Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
> --Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as opposed
> to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white appearance of
> nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
> --Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
> --Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
> --Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
> --Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail
> coverts).
> --Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.
>
> Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least population:
> --rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
> --loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
> --olive-green legs.
>
> Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
> --dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior
> auriculars.
> --Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically has
> blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and cinnamon, buff,
> off-white, or pale gray fringes).
> --thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture when
> foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's longer
> tibia) and a very short rear end.
>
> Traits not particularly good for either species:
> --Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.
>
> Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the ratio
> of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the lower edge
> of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be very close to one
> on all the Leasts I measured in this position. Occasionally a Least managed
> 1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures look like at their very best:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the gape-nape
> distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch when feeding in
> deep water:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with all-black
> bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with heavily marked
> underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the middle toe (none too
> hard to find), as well as all the photos of Leasts with pale bases to their
> lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with strong contrast between the coverts
> and scapulars, etc.. I should probably linger for a moment on head pattern
> since it has become such a popular tool, but the difficulty of using it on
> summer adults (with both species regularly showing the pattern associated
> with the other) was elaborated upon by Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:
>
>
> http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
> .
>
> (and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial patterns,
> based on occasional photos).
>
> For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received well in
> North America:
>
> Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1
>
> and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium reaching to
> the bill on the second:
> http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...
>
> and again, the forward supercilium:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=birdspecies&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Image_ID=27859&Bird_Family_ID=138
>
> and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
>
> http://indianajones.smugmug.co...
>
> Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable variation in
> this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that matches the Little
> River bird exactly. The black center of alternate-type feathers varies from
> barely more than a shaft streak to a full black center, and the shaft
> streak may or may not noticeably break through at the tip. The edges can be
> white, buff, rufous, or any combination of these colors, and there are
> sometimes small notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh alternate
> feathers sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall adults are
> more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves expand inward as
> the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way in to the shaft.
> Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent on
> what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing (as in
> molt bars).
>
> Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River bird, is
> equally odd for Long-toed:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of looking
> at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos illustrating this
> variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds with apparently mixed
> traits.
>
> The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have
> examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds looked
> like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all North
> American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts in
> numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:
>
>
> http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...
>
> Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and
> caused uncertainty in the field too.
>
> If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for it,
> and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as pure
> Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted record, from
> 1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to me (though I have
> only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might change that).
>
> http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
>
> and:
> http://greglasley.com/longtost...
>
> and:
> http://wfopublications.org/Rar...
>
> My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched, in
> which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of having a
> thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at the head, and
> in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical Long-toed look is
> more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to have classic Least
> toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds with toes this short. The
> supercilium and covert-scapular contrast look good for Long-toed but can
> approximated by juvenile Leasts. The dark centers of the wing coverts of
> Least commonly break through as the tips wear away. The head in most shots
> looks small--excellent for Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the
> nape--also good--but in others it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to
> the lower mandible is not very helpful and judging the distinctness of the
> call is somewhat subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of
> pitches. The postocular smudge extends down in the posterior auriculars
> (rather than just being an eye-stripe), a pattern attributed to Least in
> the literature. Nonetheless, I am inclined to assume this small set of
> photos is misleading, and the perceptions of the many brilliant birders who
> saw the bird in real life are more accurate.
>
> To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering
> hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited
> meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
> Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely must
> lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption with
> vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably intermediate
> navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the influences of their
> partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they choose.
>
> Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a good
> feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.
>
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Tue Jul 7 2015 13:15 pm
From: jrhough1 AT snet.net
 
On a brief perusal, I agree with Mike O'Keefe's synopsis that the Wyoming bird is a juv. Semi Sand. The scap pattern with the concave edges to the anchors as well as paler-centered feather bases to those feathers and the greater coverts seem to fit too. The nice peach breast band, lacking any carpal smudging/streaking, that seems typical of early August Semi's is apparent on this image. All in all I think it favors SemiSand.
The other stuff is hard to wade through in the time I had, but to me the CA bird in question seems to be more Least, than Long-toed, mainly based on the overall color, gestalt and the pattern of the edges to the greater coverts and tertials. Not to say that it may not be "unusual" in some ways, and I agree the long-necked look does impart a more pro-Long-toed, but the "feel" I get from going through the images quickly is more pro-Least. As for a hybrid, I wouldn't know where to begin :)
The pictures of the California bird from 1988 seem to show all the features that I would have wanted a Long-toed to show had I stumbled upon it.
My two cents…
Julian Julian Hough
New Haven, CT 06519
www.naturescapeimages.wordpress.com


On Monday, July 6, 2015 10:00 PM, Tristan McKee wrote:


Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint candidate
in California, I have been staying up all night collecting thousands of
publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying the visible traits
for the past week. This project has become too large to complete before
stint season begins to wane, but in the meantime, a few Californians have
been putting their heads together to hash out these traits, and I'd like to
broaden this discussion to a wider audience and share a few surprising
results. First let me assure you that I am not putting names to any vagrant
stints in this post, but rather underlining the variation within the normal
ranges of a few species and pointing out some intriguing photos that can be
seen on the internet.

For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken Burton,
Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott Terrill, Peter
Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, John Sterling, and
Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them necessarily endorses what I
have to say!

Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an interesting
bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while collecting "Least
Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs, this bird is clearly
either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:

http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0...

Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I note
the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the European
literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):

--Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
--Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and rusty
collar.
--Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
--Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are mostly
indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
--broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct
anchor-markings.
--Back more striped than scaled.
--Somewhat-split supercilium.
--Fairly thin-tipped bill.
--Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the
tertials.

Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a few
images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:

http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...

http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...

(scroll to juvenile):
http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...

I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be
reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on Little
Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.

Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per year,
I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the range of
variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to ensure that you
are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples used to describe
variation within a common species! I dug for images of similar Semis and
only found these two (though there were many darker "bright Semis"):

(scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...

and:
http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...

Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more white
tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more diffuse
streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so they are
easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has a very
fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I seeing rock
between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I zoom in? It is
not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the place, but I have become
leery of folks making extravagant claims about variation within a common
species without ensuring that their samples are free of vagrants and
hybrids.

This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint fever,
which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least Sandpiper
neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and plumage all at once:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of
Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium (very
nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and the
central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low while
feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than expected for
Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer than any Least
present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I have ever come across
and slightly longer than the tarsus.

Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and after
watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see that the
confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to stem from the
paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the mud, their long
tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus the ankle is bent
sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly feathers, and the bird
often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy. On the other hand, the long
tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep water (which most Leasts do not
seem very fond of), and they stand up straight and then arch their necks to
pick up food. Of course, they also stand up straight and tall when alert,
like most shorebirds. Either way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.

Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the
Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0mzenyOAs_4

Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic
traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or try
to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding the
variation in fully?

Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories based on
all the available literature, the contributions of the folks I mentioned
above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500 individuals of each
species in various plumages (as well as my experience of picking through
Leasts for twenty years looking for Long-toed traits, which has never
produced a bird that looked like a Long-toed-like to me before):

Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
--Notched greater covert borders

Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed population:
--Central toe not obviously longer than bill
--Supercilium meets bill (but does not cross forehead)
--Longish bill
--Entirely black bill
--Almost Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.

Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
--Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in water,
caused by long neck and tibia.
--Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
--Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower edge
of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).

Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
--Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as opposed
to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white appearance of
nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
--Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
--Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
--Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
--Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail coverts).
--Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.

Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least population:
--rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
--loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
--olive-green legs.

Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
--dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior
auriculars.
--Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically has
blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and cinnamon, buff,
off-white, or pale gray fringes).
--thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture when
foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's longer
tibia) and a very short rear end.

Traits not particularly good for either species:
--Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.

Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the ratio
of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the lower edge
of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be very close to one
on all the Leasts I measured in this position. Occasionally a Least managed
1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures look like at their very best:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the gape-nape
distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch when feeding in
deep water:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with all-black
bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with heavily marked
underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the middle toe (none too
hard to find), as well as all the photos of Leasts with pale bases to their
lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with strong contrast between the coverts
and scapulars, etc.. I should probably linger for a moment on head pattern
since it has become such a popular tool, but the difficulty of using it on
summer adults (with both species regularly showing the pattern associated
with the other) was elaborated upon by Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:

http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
.

(and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial patterns,
based on occasional photos).

For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received well in
North America:

Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1

and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium reaching to
the bill on the second:
http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...

and again, the forward supercilium:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=birdspecies&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Image_ID=27859&Bird_Family_ID=138

and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
http://indianajones.smugmug.co...

Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable variation in
this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that matches the Little
River bird exactly. The black center of alternate-type feathers varies from
barely more than a shaft streak to a full black center, and the shaft
streak may or may not noticeably break through at the tip. The edges can be
white, buff, rufous, or any combination of these colors, and there are
sometimes small notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh alternate
feathers sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall adults are
more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves expand inward as
the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way in to the shaft.
Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent on
what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing (as in
molt bars).

Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River bird, is
equally odd for Long-toed:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of looking
at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos illustrating this
variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds with apparently mixed
traits.

The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have
examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds looked
like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all North
American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts in
numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:

http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...

Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and
caused uncertainty in the field too.

If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for it,
and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as pure
Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted record, from
1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to me (though I have
only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might change that).

http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...

and:
http://greglasley.com/longtost...

and:
http://wfopublications.org/Rar...

My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched, in
which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of having a
thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at the head, and
in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical Long-toed look is
more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to have classic Least
toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds with toes this short. The
supercilium and covert-scapular contrast look good for Long-toed but can
approximated by juvenile Leasts. The dark centers of the wing coverts of
Least commonly break through as the tips wear away. The head in most shots
looks small--excellent for Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the
nape--also good--but in others it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to
the lower mandible is not very helpful and judging the distinctness of the
call is somewhat subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of
pitches. The postocular smudge extends down in the posterior auriculars
(rather than just being an eye-stripe), a pattern attributed to Least in
the literature. Nonetheless, I am inclined to assume this small set of
photos is misleading, and the perceptions of the many brilliant birders who
saw the bird in real life are more accurate.

To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering
hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited
meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely must
lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption with
vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably intermediate
navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the influences of their
partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they choose.

Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a good
feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...


Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Tue Jul 7 2015 11:38 am
From: lewis AT bway.net
 
On the web page

http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0...

on the fifth photo down the bird in front is a Wilson's Phalarope, not a yellowlegs. I suspect that the one behind is also.

Bob Lewis
Sleepy Hollow NY



On Jul 7, 2015, at 3:08 AM, "Mike O'Keeffe" wrote:

> Hi Tristan,
>
> Just an initial comment on your first question. In my view http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/09/wyomings-shorebird-migration/ is a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. It can be hard to argue why because as you rightly point out for every trait one quotes there are exceptions to be found and plenty of overlap between Little Stint and Semipalmated Sandpiper. But the main feature that looks wrong for Little Stint for me is the lower scapulars. I can see perfectly obvious anchor shaped tips on a light grey feather centre on all the lower scapulars.
>
> I think the overall lighting must be considered here. The lighting is nice and uniform in this image with plenty of tonal range captured for instance on the bill and on individual feathers. Lighting can sometimes create a false impression of a gradient in tones on the scapulars of Little Stint which might mirror Semipalmated Sandpiper (see here http://birdingimagequalitytool...) and this might explain some of the apparent variation in the scapular pattern in the Little Stint images you have linked to. But Little Stint if captured in flat, uniform light would never look like the Wyoming bird in my opinion.
>
> The warm, flat lighting is due to the fact the Wyoming image was taken early in the morning at 6.42am per the exif data. When white balance is corrected for a bit the bird still looks quite warm and rusty toned, as is perfectly normal for a juvenile Semipalmated in early August.
>
> I look forward to reading through the rest of your posting. I hope you realise you are liable to get the stint-peep mania started a few weeks early on both sides of the Atlantic with a posting like this. ;)
>
> Regards
>
> Mike O'Keeffe
> Ireland
>
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Tue Jul 7 2015 9:30 am
From: andrew AT natsp.com
 
Michael, the photos were taken in August 2013 according to the date at the
bottom.



Cheers,



Andrew Haffenden




-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Michael Price
Sent: Tuesday, July 07, 2015 6:22 AM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

I'm having trouble with the appearance of a juv SemiSand this early in the
southbound migration: normally they don't arrive southbound in Vancouver BC
at around the same latitude until at least week 3 July. Given the major
drought conditions along the Pacific Coast up to Alaska, has the small
*Calidris* fledging season been *this* advanced?

best wishes
m

Michael Price
Vancouver BC Canada
loblollyboy@gmail.com

Every answer deepens the mystery.
-- E.O. Wilson



On Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 12:08 AM, Mike O'Keeffe wrote:

> Hi Tristan,
>
> Just an initial comment on your first question. In my view
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0... is a
> juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. It can be hard to argue why because
> as you rightly point out for every trait one quotes there are
> exceptions to be found and plenty of overlap between Little Stint and
> Semipalmated Sandpiper. But the main feature that looks wrong for
> Little Stint for me is the lower scapulars. I can see perfectly
> obvious anchor shaped tips on a light grey feather centre on all the lower
> scapulars.
>
> I think the overall lighting must be considered here. The lighting is
> nice and uniform in this image with plenty of tonal range captured for
> instance on the bill and on individual feathers. Lighting can
> sometimes create a false impression of a gradient in tones on the
> scapulars of Little Stint which might mirror Semipalmated Sandpiper
> (see here
> http://birdingimagequalitytool...
> -centres-subterminal.html) and this might explain some of the apparent
> variation in the scapular pattern in the Little Stint images you have
> linked to. But Little Stint if captured in flat, uniform light would
> never look like the Wyoming bird in my opinion.
>
> The warm, flat lighting is due to the fact the Wyoming image was taken
> early in the morning at 6.42am per the exif data. When white balance
> is corrected for a bit the bird still looks quite warm and rusty
> toned, as is perfectly normal for a juvenile Semipalmated in early August.
>
> I look forward to reading through the rest of your posting. I hope
> you realise you are liable to get the stint-peep mania started a few
> weeks early on both sides of the Atlantic with a posting like this. ;)
>
> Regards
>
> Mike O'Keeffe
> Ireland
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
> Sent: 07 July 2015 03:01
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever
>
> Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint
> candidate in California, I have been staying up all night collecting
> thousands of publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying
> the visible traits for the past week. This project has become too
> large to complete before stint season begins to wane, but in the
> meantime, a few Californians have been putting their heads together to
> hash out these traits, and I'd like to broaden this discussion to a
> wider audience and share a few surprising results. First let me assure
> you that I am not putting names to any vagrant stints in this post,
> but rather underlining the variation within the normal ranges of a few
> species and pointing out some intriguing photos that can be seen on the
> internet.
>
> For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken
> Burton, Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott
> Terrill, Peter Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler,
> John Sterling, and Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them
> necessarily endorses what I have to say!
>
> Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an
> interesting bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while
> collecting "Least Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs,
> this bird is clearly either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:
>
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/09/wyomings-shorebird-migration/
>
> Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I
> note the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the
> European literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):
>
> --Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
> --Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and
> rusty collar.
> --Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
> --Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are
> mostly indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
> --broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct
> anchor-markings.
> --Back more striped than scaled.
> --Somewhat-split supercilium.
> --Fairly thin-tipped bill.
> --Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the
> tertials.
>
> Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a
> few images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:
>
>
> http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...
> 2%80%8B%E2%80%8B-stop-during-flight-south
>
> http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...
>
> (scroll to juvenile):
> http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...
> ml
>
> I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be
> reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on
> Little Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.
>
> Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per
> year, I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the
> range of variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to
> ensure that you are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples
> used to describe variation within a common species! I dug for images
> of similar Semis and only found these two (though there were many darker
> "bright Semis"):
>
> (scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
> http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...
>
> and:
> http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...
>
> Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more
> white tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more
> diffuse streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so
> they are easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has
> a very fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I
> seeing rock between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I
> zoom in? It is not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the
> place, but I have become leery of folks making extravagant claims
> about variation within a common species without ensuring that their
> samples are free of vagrants and hybrids.
>
> This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint
> fever, which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least
> Sandpiper neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and
> plumage all at once:
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of
> Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium
> (very
> nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and
> the central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low
> while feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than
> expected for Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer
> than any Least present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I
> have ever come across and slightly longer than the tarsus.
>
> Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and
> after watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see
> that the confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to
> stem from the paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the
> mud, their long tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus
> the ankle is bent sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly
> feathers, and the bird often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy.
> On the other hand, the long tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep
> water (which most Leasts do not seem very fond of), and they stand up
> straight and then arch their necks to pick up food. Of course, they
> also stand up straight and tall when alert, like most shorebirds. Either
> way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.
>
> Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the
> Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):
>
> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0zenyOAs_4
>
> Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic
> traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or
> try to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding
> the variation in fully?
>
> Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories
> based on all the available literature, the contributions of the folks
> I mentioned above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500
> individuals of each species in various plumages (as well as my
> experience of picking through Leasts for twenty years looking for
> Long-toed traits, which has never produced a bird that looked like a
> Long-toed-like to me before):
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
> --Notched greater covert borders
>
> Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed
> population:
> --Central toe not obviously longer than bill --Supercilium meets bill
> (but does not cross forehead) --Longish bill --Entirely black bill
> --Almost Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
> --Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in
> water, caused by long neck and tibia.
> --Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
> --Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower
> edge of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).
>
> Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
> --Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as
> opposed to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white
> appearance of nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
> --Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
> --Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
> --Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
> --Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail
> coverts).
> --Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.
>
> Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least
> population:
> --rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
> --loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
> --olive-green legs.
>
> Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
> --dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior
> auriculars.
> --Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically
> has blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and
> cinnamon, buff, off-white, or pale gray fringes).
> --thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture
> when foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's
> longer
> tibia) and a very short rear end.
>
> Traits not particularly good for either species:
> --Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.
>
> Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the
> ratio of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the
> lower edge of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be
> very close to one on all the Leasts I measured in this position.
> Occasionally a Least managed 1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures
> look like at their very best:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
> public/
>
> The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the
> gape-nape distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch
> when feeding in deep water:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
> wbxPS-5kz3Fs-4oDPG4-pcfxsV-4HEpGV-4jRJsv-oJTk9Z-jsphzG-iXCQnu-pEBcu1-c
> vKN3d-cvKNu9-cvKNhj-cvKMZu-cvKNeu-cvKNc3-cvKN6w-cvKNkL-cvKNq9-bYnhL-93
> z7FF-pEzr1R-334Gbk-76wJ7L-4yxRVA-5fDns6-5fDncT-5fHHqs-5fHHGL-5fHFHS-sn
> 6MMR-p7JXkA-5WiuKP-fo1YsQ-ea9PZg-oNGQ9u-t5rJih-rS9JDk-eahUSB-5fHFQs-v2
> n6va-v25Xnc-v1AsMj-v1AsQq-uJCHtc-u55iyq-uJv2sJ-v1AsJd-5fHFuf-5fHFAC
>
> I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with
> all-black bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with
> heavily marked underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the
> middle toe (none too hard to find), as well as all the photos of
> Leasts with pale bases to their lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with
> strong contrast between the coverts and scapulars, etc.. I should
> probably linger for a moment on head pattern since it has become such
> a popular tool, but the difficulty of using it on summer adults (with
> both species regularly showing the pattern associated with the other)
> was elaborated upon by Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:
>
>
> http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
> _N08/V82_N08_P360_372_A101.pdfter
> .
>
> (and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial
> patterns, based on occasional photos).
>
> For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received
> well in North America:
>
> Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7Bird_ID43&Bird_Family_
> ID=&pagesize=1
>
> and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium
> reaching to the bill on the second:
> http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...
>
> and again, the forward supercilium:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=brdspecies&Bird_I
> D43&Bird_Image_ID'859&Bird_Family_ID8
>
> and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
>
> http://indianajones.smugmug.co...
> rs-25/i-Lt4v47c/A
>
> Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable
> variation in this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that
> matches the Little River bird exactly. The black center of
> alternate-type feathers varies from barely more than a shaft streak to
> a full black center, and the shaft streak may or may not noticeably
> break through at the tip. The edges can be white, buff, rufous, or any
> combination of these colors, and there are sometimes small
> notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh alternate feathers
> sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall adults are
> more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves expand
> inward as the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way in to
> the shaft.
> Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent
> on what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing
> (as in molt bars).
>
> Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
> rEvpu-asUsvx-8ujN29-7rY7st-8rCHrf-dycGZB-diE4aV-mxGRK-fo2aSC-7DUwFZ-7D
> YmH1-7DUwGp-7DUwKr-e1KkdX-ph3P2v-e1Kk3Z-e1QYuW-ps8izi-nkmFGX-rQByFo-ed
> ioVs-r35CqB-7ekFHr-9dD4ro-9dD4s7-r4rb5o-jKkkZo-7US5Tp-7UVjZb-7US65B-oE
> wLLN-awb57y-jEnFJa-e9GEBE-8rCHsL-nkn2M1-oR7znF-oyTM2o-oyU2BJ-oRmw87-oR
> myXA-oyUsn4-oyUmyR-oPmDbw-oyTYv3-oyTMcJ-oR7CSB-9BdDb7-e8sSJH-agbcHk
>
> and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River
> bird, is equally odd for Long-toed:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
> D-pHDjAU-9EgAcs-cNbp6-ge9YJd-pc2ggf-8z61CF-5PKMcw-7j8aLK-aieMjq-9CPDcj
> -7UCY75-7UCVGU-ddhpyx-sAfU3N-arqXiw-7UCQEL-rx5QXv-63mDcz-7br8vj-4i24xn
> -e48PgY-maXvAp-DEzV5-7UzGer-334GaZ-7RjUCr-76sFwn-9EgAch-c4jTG-dra5s-cN
> 36c-d44ko-cN1CH-334Gbe-uWR7us-8D6VvF-aieLu9-76wFAE-4Drc76-9emGte-aieLY
> f-aieM7j-eALFwD-aieL8A-aibX3z-4HASnk-9EKHfz-pcfxsV
>
> We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of
> looking at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos
> illustrating this variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds
> with apparently mixed traits.
>
> The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have
> examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds
> looked like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all
> North American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts
> in numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:
>
>
> http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...
> ring_attu_island_alaska_3a.jpg
>
> Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and
> caused uncertainty in the field too.
>
> If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for
> it, and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as
> pure Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted
> record, from 1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to
> me (though I have only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might
> change that).
>
> http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
>
> and:
> http://greglasley.com/longtost...
>
> and:
> http://wfopublications.org/Rar...
> html
>
> My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched,
> in which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of
> having a thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at
> the head, and in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical
> Long-toed look is more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to
> have classic Least toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds
> with toes this short. The supercilium and covert-scapular contrast
> look good for Long-toed but can approximated by juvenile Leasts. The
> dark centers of the wing coverts of Least commonly break through as
> the tips wear away. The head in most shots looks small--excellent for
> Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the nape--also good--but in others
> it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to the lower mandible is not
> very helpful and judging the distinctness of the call is somewhat
> subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of pitches. The
> postocular smudge extends down!
> in the posterior auriculars (rather than just being an eye-stripe),
> a pattern attributed to Least in the literature. Nonetheless, I am
> inclined to assume this small set of photos is misleading, and the
> perceptions of the many brilliant birders who saw the bird in real life
> are more accurate.
>
> To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering
> hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited
> meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
> Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely
> must lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption
> with vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably
> intermediate navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the
> influences of their partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they
> choose.
>
> Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a
> good feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.
>
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Tue Jul 7 2015 7:14 am
From: loblollyboy AT gmail.com
 
I'm having trouble with the appearance of a juv SemiSand this early in the
southbound migration: normally they don't arrive southbound in Vancouver BC
at around the same latitude until at least week 3 July. Given the major
drought conditions along the Pacific Coast up to Alaska, has the small
*Calidris* fledging season been *this* advanced?

best wishes
m

Michael Price
Vancouver BC Canada
loblollyboy@gmail.com

Every answer deepens the mystery.
-- E.O. Wilson



On Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 12:08 AM, Mike O'Keeffe wrote:

> Hi Tristan,
>
> Just an initial comment on your first question. In my view
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0... is a
> juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. It can be hard to argue why because as
> you rightly point out for every trait one quotes there are exceptions to be
> found and plenty of overlap between Little Stint and Semipalmated
> Sandpiper. But the main feature that looks wrong for Little Stint for me
> is the lower scapulars. I can see perfectly obvious anchor shaped tips on
> a light grey feather centre on all the lower scapulars.
>
> I think the overall lighting must be considered here. The lighting is
> nice and uniform in this image with plenty of tonal range captured for
> instance on the bill and on individual feathers. Lighting can sometimes
> create a false impression of a gradient in tones on the scapulars of Little
> Stint which might mirror Semipalmated Sandpiper (see here
> http://birdingimagequalitytool...)
> and this might explain some of the apparent variation in the scapular
> pattern in the Little Stint images you have linked to. But Little Stint if
> captured in flat, uniform light would never look like the Wyoming bird in
> my opinion.
>
> The warm, flat lighting is due to the fact the Wyoming image was taken
> early in the morning at 6.42am per the exif data. When white balance is
> corrected for a bit the bird still looks quite warm and rusty toned, as is
> perfectly normal for a juvenile Semipalmated in early August.
>
> I look forward to reading through the rest of your posting. I hope you
> realise you are liable to get the stint-peep mania started a few weeks
> early on both sides of the Atlantic with a posting like this. ;)
>
> Regards
>
> Mike O'Keeffe
> Ireland
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:
> BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
> Sent: 07 July 2015 03:01
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever
>
> Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint
> candidate in California, I have been staying up all night collecting
> thousands of publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying the
> visible traits for the past week. This project has become too large to
> complete before stint season begins to wane, but in the meantime, a few
> Californians have been putting their heads together to hash out these
> traits, and I'd like to broaden this discussion to a wider audience and
> share a few surprising results. First let me assure you that I am not
> putting names to any vagrant stints in this post, but rather underlining
> the variation within the normal ranges of a few species and pointing out
> some intriguing photos that can be seen on the internet.
>
> For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken Burton,
> Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott Terrill, Peter
> Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, John Sterling, and
> Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them necessarily endorses what I
> have to say!
>
> Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an interesting
> bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while collecting "Least
> Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs, this bird is clearly
> either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:
>
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/09/wyomings-shorebird-migration/
>
> Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I note
> the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the European
> literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):
>
> --Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
> --Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and
> rusty collar.
> --Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
> --Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are mostly
> indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
> --broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct
> anchor-markings.
> --Back more striped than scaled.
> --Somewhat-split supercilium.
> --Fairly thin-tipped bill.
> --Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the
> tertials.
>
> Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a few
> images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:
>
>
> http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...
>
> http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...
>
> (scroll to juvenile):
> http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...
>
> I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be
> reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on Little
> Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.
>
> Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per
> year, I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the range of
> variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to ensure that you
> are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples used to describe
> variation within a common species! I dug for images of similar Semis and
> only found these two (though there were many darker "bright Semis"):
>
> (scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
> http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...
>
> and:
> http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...
>
> Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more white
> tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more diffuse
> streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so they are
> easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has a very
> fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I seeing rock
> between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I zoom in? It is
> not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the place, but I have become
> leery of folks making extravagant claims about variation within a common
> species without ensuring that their samples are free of vagrants and
> hybrids.
>
> This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint
> fever, which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least
> Sandpiper neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and plumage all
> at once:
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of
> Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium (very
> nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and the
> central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low while
> feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than expected for
> Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer than any Least
> present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I have ever come across
> and slightly longer than the tarsus.
>
> Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and after
> watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see that the
> confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to stem from the
> paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the mud, their long
> tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus the ankle is bent
> sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly feathers, and the bird
> often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy. On the other hand, the long
> tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep water (which most Leasts do not
> seem very fond of), and they stand up straight and then arch their necks to
> pick up food. Of course, they also stand up straight and tall when alert,
> like most shorebirds. Either way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.
>
> Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the
> Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):
>
> https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0mzenyOAs_4
>
> Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic
> traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or try
> to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding the
> variation in fully?
>
> Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories based
> on all the available literature, the contributions of the folks I mentioned
> above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500 individuals of each
> species in various plumages (as well as my experience of picking through
> Leasts for twenty years looking for Long-toed traits, which has never
> produced a bird that looked like a Long-toed-like to me before):
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
> --Notched greater covert borders
>
> Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed population:
> --Central toe not obviously longer than bill --Supercilium meets bill (but
> does not cross forehead) --Longish bill --Entirely black bill --Almost
> Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.
>
> Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
> --Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in water,
> caused by long neck and tibia.
> --Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
> --Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower edge
> of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).
>
> Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
> --Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as
> opposed to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white
> appearance of nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
> --Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
> --Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
> --Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
> --Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail
> coverts).
> --Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.
>
> Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least population:
> --rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
> --loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
> --olive-green legs.
>
> Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
> --dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior
> auriculars.
> --Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically has
> blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and cinnamon, buff,
> off-white, or pale gray fringes).
> --thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture
> when foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's longer
> tibia) and a very short rear end.
>
> Traits not particularly good for either species:
> --Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.
>
> Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the ratio
> of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the lower edge
> of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be very close to one
> on all the Leasts I measured in this position. Occasionally a Least managed
> 1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures look like at their very best:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the gape-nape
> distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch when feeding in
> deep water:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with
> all-black bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with heavily
> marked underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the middle toe
> (none too hard to find), as well as all the photos of Leasts with pale
> bases to their lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with strong contrast
> between the coverts and scapulars, etc.. I should probably linger for a
> moment on head pattern since it has become such a popular tool, but the
> difficulty of using it on summer adults (with both species regularly
> showing the pattern associated with the other) was elaborated upon by
> Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:
>
>
> http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
> .
>
> (and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial patterns,
> based on occasional photos).
>
> For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received well in
> North America:
>
> Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1
>
> and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium reaching
> to the bill on the second:
> http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...
>
> and again, the forward supercilium:
>
> http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=birdspecies&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Image_ID=27859&Bird_Family_ID=138
>
> and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
>
> http://indianajones.smugmug.co...
>
> Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable variation
> in this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that matches the
> Little River bird exactly. The black center of alternate-type feathers
> varies from barely more than a shaft streak to a full black center, and the
> shaft streak may or may not noticeably break through at the tip. The edges
> can be white, buff, rufous, or any combination of these colors, and there
> are sometimes small notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh
> alternate feathers sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall
> adults are more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves
> expand inward as the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way
> in to the shaft.
> Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent on
> what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing (as in
> molt bars).
>
> Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River bird, is
> equally odd for Long-toed:
>
>
> https://www.flickr.com/photos/...
>
> We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of looking
> at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos illustrating this
> variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds with apparently mixed
> traits.
>
> The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have
> examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds looked
> like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all North
> American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts in
> numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:
>
>
> http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...
>
> Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and
> caused uncertainty in the field too.
>
> If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for it,
> and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as pure
> Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted record, from
> 1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to me (though I have
> only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might change that).
>
> http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...
>
> and:
> http://greglasley.com/longtost...
>
> and:
> http://wfopublications.org/Rar...
>
> My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched, in
> which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of having a
> thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at the head, and
> in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical Long-toed look is
> more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to have classic Least
> toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds with toes this short. The
> supercilium and covert-scapular contrast look good for Long-toed but can
> approximated by juvenile Leasts. The dark centers of the wing coverts of
> Least commonly break through as the tips wear away. The head in most shots
> looks small--excellent for Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the
> nape--also good--but in others it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to
> the lower mandible is not very helpful and judging the distinctness of the
> call is somewhat subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of
> pitches. The postocular smudge extends down!
> in the posterior auriculars (rather than just being an eye-stripe), a
> pattern attributed to Least in the literature. Nonetheless, I am inclined
> to assume this small set of photos is misleading, and the perceptions of
> the many brilliant birders who saw the bird in real life are more accurate.
>
> To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering
> hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited
> meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
> Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely must
> lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption with
> vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably intermediate
> navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the influences of their
> partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they choose.
>
> Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a good
> feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.
>
> Tristan McKee
> Arcata, CA
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Tue Jul 7 2015 2:45 am
From: okeeffeml AT eircom.net
 
Hi  Tristan,

Just an initial comment on your first question. In my view http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0... is a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. It can be hard to argue why because as you rightly point out for every trait one quotes there are exceptions to be found and plenty of overlap between Little Stint and Semipalmated Sandpiper. But the main feature that looks wrong for Little Stint for me is the lower scapulars. I can see perfectly obvious anchor shaped tips on a light grey feather centre on all the lower scapulars.

I think the overall lighting must be considered here. The lighting is nice and uniform in this image with plenty of tonal range captured for instance on the bill and on individual feathers. Lighting can sometimes create a false impression of a gradient in tones on the scapulars of Little Stint which might mirror Semipalmated Sandpiper (see here http://birdingimagequalitytool...) and this might explain some of the apparent variation in the scapular pattern in the Little Stint images you have linked to. But Little Stint if captured in flat, uniform light would never look like the Wyoming bird in my opinion.

The warm, flat lighting is due to the fact the Wyoming image was taken early in the morning at 6.42am per the exif data. When white balance is corrected for a bit the bird still looks quite warm and rusty toned, as is perfectly normal for a juvenile Semipalmated in early August.

I look forward to reading through the rest of your posting. I hope you realise you are liable to get the stint-peep mania started a few weeks early on both sides of the Atlantic with a posting like this. ;)

Regards

Mike O'Keeffe
Ireland



-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Tristan McKee
Sent: 07 July 2015 03:01
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: [BIRDWG01] Stint Fever

Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint candidate in California, I have been staying up all night collecting thousands of publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying the visible traits for the past week. This project has become too large to complete before stint season begins to wane, but in the meantime, a few Californians have been putting their heads together to hash out these traits, and I'd like to broaden this discussion to a wider audience and share a few surprising results. First let me assure you that I am not putting names to any vagrant stints in this post, but rather underlining the variation within the normal ranges of a few species and pointing out some intriguing photos that can be seen on the internet.

For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken Burton, Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott Terrill, Peter Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, John Sterling, and Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them necessarily endorses what I have to say!

Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an interesting bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while collecting "Least Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs, this bird is clearly either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:

http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/09/wyomings-shorebird-migration/

Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I note the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the European literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):

--Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
--Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and rusty collar.
--Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
--Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are mostly indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
--broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct anchor-markings.
--Back more striped than scaled.
--Somewhat-split supercilium.
--Fairly thin-tipped bill.
--Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the tertials.

Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a few images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:

http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...

http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...

(scroll to juvenile):
http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...

I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on Little Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.

Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per year, I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the range of variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to ensure that you are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples used to describe variation within a common species! I dug for images of similar Semis and only found these two (though there were many darker "bright Semis"):

(scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...

and:
http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...

Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more white tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more diffuse streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so they are easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has a very fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I seeing rock between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I zoom in? It is not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the place, but I have become leery of folks making extravagant claims about variation within a common species without ensuring that their samples are free of vagrants and hybrids.

This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint fever, which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least Sandpiper neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and plumage all at once:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium (very
nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and the central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low while feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than expected for Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer than any Least present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I have ever come across and slightly longer than the tarsus.

Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and after watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see that the confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to stem from the paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the mud, their long tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus the ankle is bent sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly feathers, and the bird often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy. On the other hand, the long tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep water (which most Leasts do not seem very fond of), and they stand up straight and then arch their necks to pick up food. Of course, they also stand up straight and tall when alert, like most shorebirds. Either way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.

Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0zenyOAs_4

Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or try to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding the variation in fully?

Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories based on all the available literature, the contributions of the folks I mentioned above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500 individuals of each species in various plumages (as well as my experience of picking through Leasts for twenty years looking for Long-toed traits, which has never produced a bird that looked like a Long-toed-like to me before):

Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
--Notched greater covert borders

Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed population:
--Central toe not obviously longer than bill --Supercilium meets bill (but does not cross forehead) --Longish bill --Entirely black bill --Almost Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.

Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
--Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in water, caused by long neck and tibia.
--Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
--Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower edge of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).

Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
--Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as opposed to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white appearance of nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
--Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
--Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
--Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
--Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail coverts).
--Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.

Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least population:
--rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
--loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
--olive-green legs.

Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
--dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior auriculars.
--Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically has blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and cinnamon, buff, off-white, or pale gray fringes).
--thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture when foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's longer
tibia) and a very short rear end.

Traits not particularly good for either species:
--Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.

Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the ratio of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the lower edge of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be very close to one on all the Leasts I measured in this position. Occasionally a Least managed 1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures look like at their very best:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the gape-nape distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch when feeding in deep water:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with all-black bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with heavily marked underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the middle toe (none too hard to find), as well as all the photos of Leasts with pale bases to their lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with strong contrast between the coverts and scapulars, etc.. I should probably linger for a moment on head pattern since it has become such a popular tool, but the difficulty of using it on summer adults (with both species regularly showing the pattern associated with the other) was elaborated upon by Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:

http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
.

(and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial patterns, based on occasional photos).

For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received well in North America:

Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7Bird_ID43&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1

and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium reaching to the bill on the second:
http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...

and again, the forward supercilium:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=brdspecies&Bird_ID43&Bird_Image_ID'859&Bird_Family_ID8

and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
http://indianajones.smugmug.co...

Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable variation in this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that matches the Little River bird exactly. The black center of alternate-type feathers varies from barely more than a shaft streak to a full black center, and the shaft streak may or may not noticeably break through at the tip. The edges can be white, buff, rufous, or any combination of these colors, and there are sometimes small notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh alternate feathers sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall adults are more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves expand inward as the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way in to the shaft.
Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent on what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing (as in molt bars).

Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River bird, is equally odd for Long-toed:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of looking at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos illustrating this variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds with apparently mixed traits.

The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds looked like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all North American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts in numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:

http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...

Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and caused uncertainty in the field too.

If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for it, and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as pure Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted record, from 1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to me (though I have only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might change that).

http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...

and:
http://greglasley.com/longtost...

and:
http://wfopublications.org/Rar...

My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched, in which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of having a thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at the head, and in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical Long-toed look is more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to have classic Least toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds with toes this short. The supercilium and covert-scapular contrast look good for Long-toed but can approximated by juvenile Leasts. The dark centers of the wing coverts of Least commonly break through as the tips wear away. The head in most shots looks small--excellent for Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the nape--also good--but in others it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to the lower mandible is not very helpful and judging the distinctness of the call is somewhat subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of pitches. The postocular smudge extends down!
in the posterior auriculars (rather than just being an eye-stripe), a pattern attributed to Least in the literature. Nonetheless, I am inclined to assume this small set of photos is misleading, and the perceptions of the many brilliant birders who saw the bird in real life are more accurate.

To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely must lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption with vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably intermediate navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the influences of their partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they choose.

Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a good feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Mon Jul 6 2015 22:34 pm
From: celata AT pacifier.com
 
and the Lesser Yellowlegs appear to be Wilson's Phalaropes, so
he's obviously not a rabid shorebird aficionado.

Decent photographer, though...

Tristan McKee wrote:
>
> http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0...
>

--
Mike Patterson
Astoria, OR
The phenological margins
http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/northcoastdiaries/?p'53

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Subject: Stint Fever
Date: Mon Jul 6 2015 21:57 pm
From: atmckee AT gmail.com
 
Forced to face some tough questions about another Long-toed-Stint candidate
in California, I have been staying up all night collecting thousands of
publicly-available peep and stint photos and quantifying the visible traits
for the past week. This project has become too large to complete before
stint season begins to wane, but in the meantime, a few Californians have
been putting their heads together to hash out these traits, and I'd like to
broaden this discussion to a wider audience and share a few surprising
results. First let me assure you that I am not putting names to any vagrant
stints in this post, but rather underlining the variation within the normal
ranges of a few species and pointing out some intriguing photos that can be
seen on the internet.

For their contributions to this discussion, I am indebted to Ken Burton,
Tony Kurz, Casey Ryan, Sean McAllister, Todd Easterla, Scott Terrill, Peter
Pyle, Monte Taylor, Matt Brady, Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, John Sterling, and
Nial Moores, but I must note that none of them necessarily endorses what I
have to say!

Before I get into Least and Long-toed, I want to point out an interesting
bird photographed in Wyoming that I came across while collecting "Least
Sandpiper" photos. Despite its fairly pale legs, this bird is clearly
either a Semipalmated Sandpiper or a Little Stint:

http://franzfoto.com/2013/08/0...

Maybe it is just the light saturation that makes it look odd, but I note
the following traits, which are pretty much all the ones the European
literature attributes to Little (versus Semipalmated):

--Pale eye patch and sides of crown not contrasting well with supercilium.
--Pale gray nape contrasting strongly with darker center of crown and rusty
collar.
--Warm peachy breast with only about three dusky streaks on breast side.
--Black anchor-markings and white tips on scapulars and coverts are mostly
indistinct or absent and thus no overall scaly pattern is produced.
--broad black centers to the rear scapulars, not forming distinct
anchor-markings.
--Back more striped than scaled.
--Somewhat-split supercilium.
--Fairly thin-tipped bill.
--Moderate primary projection, with two well-spaced tips beyond the
tertials.

Before saying "those wings are far too pale for a Little", check out a few
images of "gray-morph juveniles" and other variants:

http://ibc.lynxeds.com/photo/l...

http://www.larslundmark.se/sma...

(scroll to juvenile):
http://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/bi...

I was surprised to find that dark centers of the wing coverts can be
reduced to shaft streaks on such birds! The two or three "Vs" on Little
Stints can also melt into the mantle and disappear.

Since I am a Californian who only sees a handful of Semipalmateds per year,
I will not be surprised to hear that this bird is within the range of
variation of that species. But I urge you all to strive to ensure that you
are not accidentally including vagrants in the samples used to describe
variation within a common species! I dug for images of similar Semis and
only found these two (though there were many darker "bright Semis"):

(scroll down to "Semipalmated" photos):
http://www.jeaniron.ca/Shorebi...

and:
http://www.pbase.com/gregbirde...

Both have considerably darker and more contrasting eye patches, more white
tips on the mantle creating a slightly scalier look, and more diffuse
streaking on the sides of the breast than the Wyoming bird, so they are
easier to swallow as Semis. Nonetheless, the Oregon bird has a very
fine-tipped bill and a contrasting pale gray hindneck, and am I seeing rock
between the very bases of the toes of the rear foot when I zoom in? It is
not my goal to identify Little Stints all over the place, but I have become
leery of folks making extravagant claims about variation within a common
species without ensuring that their samples are free of vagrants and
hybrids.

This leads me to the sandpiper that gave me my current case of stint fever,
which had the potential to redefine my understanding of Least Sandpiper
neck length, leg length, toe length, size, calls, and plumage all at once:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

This bird had notched greater covert fringes, considered diagnostic of
Least. It also had a relatively long, all-black bill, the supercilium (very
nearly) reached the bill (though it did not cross the forehead), and the
central breast was well-marked. Some photos show it squatting low while
feeding in the mud, which made it look shorter-legged than expected for
Long-toed (when standing up, its tibia was visibly longer than any Least
present). Its central toe was longer than any Least I have ever come across
and slightly longer than the tarsus.

Much interesting discussion of behavior surrounded this bird, and after
watching various videos of both species foraging, I began to see that the
confusion about Long-toed Stint behavior and posture seems to stem from the
paradoxical way they utilize different habitats. On the mud, their long
tibia force them to lean forward to pick up food; thus the ankle is bent
sharply; the tibia largely disappear into the belly feathers, and the bird
often appears squat, short-legged, and creepy. On the other hand, the long
tibia and neck these birds to feed in deep water (which most Leasts do not
seem very fond of), and they stand up straight and then arch their necks to
pick up food. Of course, they also stand up straight and tall when alert,
like most shorebirds. Either way, the Tringa-like appearance is striking.

Notice the squat appearance of the bird in this video (also note the
Pectoral Sandpiper-like breastband and long bill):

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0mzenyOAs_4

Thus here at Little River, CA, we are dealing with a bird with classic
traits of both species, so shall we consider it a potential hybrid or try
to figure out which species (and traits) we are not understanding the
variation in fully?

Here is a trait breakdown for this individual, with the categories based on
all the available literature, the contributions of the folks I mentioned
above, and my preliminary photo analysis of about 500 individuals of each
species in various plumages (as well as my experience of picking through
Leasts for twenty years looking for Long-toed traits, which has never
produced a bird that looked like a Long-toed-like to me before):

Traits apparently diagnostic of Least:
--Notched greater covert borders

Traits suggestive of Least but found regularly in the Long-toed population:
--Central toe not obviously longer than bill
--Supercilium meets bill (but does not cross forehead)
--Longish bill
--Entirely black bill
--Almost Pectoral Sandpiper-like breast band.

Traits apparently diagnostic of Long-toed:
--Tringa-like appearance when alert or standing up to its belly in water,
caused by long neck and tibia.
--Central toe slightly longer than tarsus.
--Length of fully-extended neck (distance between shoulder and lower edge
of auriculars) about 1.7x the gape to nape distance (see below).

Long-toed traits found in the Least population but only rarely:
--Vividly contrasting gray, rufous, black, and white appearance (as opposed
to the brown, gray-brown, black, cinnamon, buff and white appearance of
nearly all alternate-plumaged Leasts).
--Small head with a shallow forehead slope and somewhat squared nape.
--Large size (visibly slightly larger than any Least present).
--Low-pitched "trrrt" call.
--Strong dark markings extending down to the flanks (and undertail coverts).
--Very thick, bold bright rufous tertial edges.

Traits suggestive of Long-toed but found regularly in the Least population:
--rather bold supercilium bulging down into the thin loral line.
--loral line busts slightly up into supercilium just in front of eye.
--olive-green legs.

Long-toed traits that are not yet quantified in the Least population:
--dark postocular line that does not extend down in the posterior
auriculars.
--Clean medium-gray panel in lesser secondary coverts (Least typically has
blackish or dark gray-brown centers to these feathers and cinnamon, buff,
off-white, or pale gray fringes).
--thick, heavy chest that is emphasized by its hunched-forward posture when
foraging on mud (which the literature attributes to Long-toed's longer
tibia) and a very short rear end.

Traits not particularly good for either species:
--Forehead slightly paler brown than cap.

Because Leasts have proportionately short necks and large heads, the ratio
of fully-outstretched neck length (between the shoulder and the lower edge
of the auriculars) to gape-nape distance turned out to be very close to one
on all the Leasts I measured in this position. Occasionally a Least managed
1.3. This is what the chunky little creatures look like at their very best:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

The outstretched neck length of Long-toed often exceeds 1.5x the gape-nape
distance and can approach 2x; notice also the strange arch when feeding in
deep water:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

I'll spare you all the photos I have collected of Long-toeds with all-black
bills, Long-toeds with longish bills, Long-toeds with heavily marked
underparts, and Long-toeds with bills longer than the middle toe (none too
hard to find), as well as all the photos of Leasts with pale bases to their
lower mandibles, juvenile Leasts with strong contrast between the coverts
and scapulars, etc.. I should probably linger for a moment on head pattern
since it has become such a popular tool, but the difficulty of using it on
summer adults (with both species regularly showing the pattern associated
with the other) was elaborated upon by Alstrom and Olsson a long time ago:

http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/...
.

(and even fresh juveniles can approximate one anothers' facial patterns,
based on occasional photos).

For instance, here are a few Long-toeds that might not be received well in
North America:

Note the forehead and not-especially-long toes:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=7&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1

and note the all-black bill of the top bird and the supercilium reaching to
the bill on the second:
http://alder-birds.blog.ntu.ed...

and again, the forward supercilium:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/birdimages.php?action=birdspecies&Bird_ID=1243&Bird_Image_ID=27859&Bird_Family_ID=138

and here's a Least that I wouldn't want to claim in Asia:
http://indianajones.smugmug.co...

Back to the greater coverts. So far, I have found considerable variation in
this feather tract in Long-toed photos, but nothing that matches the Little
River bird exactly. The black center of alternate-type feathers varies from
barely more than a shaft streak to a full black center, and the shaft
streak may or may not noticeably break through at the tip. The edges can be
white, buff, rufous, or any combination of these colors, and there are
sometimes small notches/constrictions. Spring birds with fresh alternate
feathers sometimes show a shallow waviness. Photos of early fall adults are
more difficult to come by, but it appears that these waves expand inward as
the feathers fade. Sometimes the fringe fades all the way in to the shaft.
Whether this fading is even or uniform probably depends to some extent on
what was happening in the bird's life as the feather was growing (as in
molt bars).

Here is some constriction of the black greater covert centers:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

and here is a pattern that, while different from the Little River bird, is
equally odd for Long-toed:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/...

We would be extremely interested in hearing of any experiences of looking
at variation in Long-toed greater coverts or photos illustrating this
variation, and of seeing any other photos of birds with apparently mixed
traits.

The cheerful news is that of all the Long-toed and Least photos I have
examined so far, there were very few ambiguous birds. Asian birds looked
like Long-toeds over a broad spectrum of traits, and nearly all North
American birds away from Alaska fundamentally looked like Leasts in
numerous ways. Attu provided a few troublesome cases, such as:

http://www.tsuru-bird.net/a_sp...

Monte tells me that this individual was with a group of Long-toeds and
caused uncertainty in the field too.

If hybridization were to occur, that would be an excellent place for it,
and such offspring might be as likely to end up in California as pure
Long-toeds. Much to my surprise, California's only accepted record, from
1988, was another bird that ended up being ambiguous to me (though I have
only seen a few photos of it; a longer series might change that).

http://www.avibirds.com/pdf/T/...

and:
http://greglasley.com/longtost...

and:
http://wfopublications.org/Rar...

My eyes were drawn to the shots with its neck partially outstretched, in
which the bird takes on the characteristic Least appearance of having a
thick lower neck tapering upward and then suddenly bulging at the head, and
in some shots the crown looks quite domed. The typical Long-toed look is
more elegant and "snakey". The bird also appears to have classic Least
toes, although I found a few photos of Long-toeds with toes this short. The
supercilium and covert-scapular contrast look good for Long-toed but can
approximated by juvenile Leasts. The dark centers of the wing coverts of
Least commonly break through as the tips wear away. The head in most shots
looks small--excellent for Long-toed--and sometimes squared at the
nape--also good--but in others it looks rather bulbous. The pale base to
the lower mandible is not very helpful and judging the distinctness of the
call is somewhat subjective, with Least giving notes at a variety of
pitches. The postocular smudge extends down in the posterior auriculars
(rather than just being an eye-stripe), a pattern attributed to Least in
the literature. Nonetheless, I am inclined to assume this small set of
photos is misleading, and the perceptions of the many brilliant birders who
saw the bird in real life are more accurate.

To me, this is mostly a question of whether we should be considering
hybrids--the lack of recorded instances of hybridization is of limited
meaning, since it would be so incredibly difficult to detect it.
Nonetheless, the much larger source population of pure birds surely must
lead to more pure vagrants... at least, we make that assumption with
vagrants on a regular basis, happily ignoring the probably intermediate
navigation systems of hybrids and backcrosses and the influences of their
partial-conspecifics on the migratory route they choose.

Like I said, no vagrants were identified in this post!. But I have a good
feeling about this evening on the bay, so cheers, and happy stinting.

Tristan McKee
Arcata, CA

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Subject: Are a large number of Cayenne-type Terns invading North America and interbreedin
Date: Mon Jul 6 2015 10:12 am
From: MBB22222 AT aol.com
 
Is a large number of Cayenne-type Terns invading North America and  
interbreeding with Cabot’s Terns?

Hi All,

A few months ago I reported a couple of Cayenne-type terns which were
traveling with the large migrating Cabot’s Tern flock (on April 9). At that
time I tried to summarize what was published on distribution and possible
interbreeding between these two subspecies so there is no need to repeat
references that are easy to find in archives. That post triggered some
discussion that also continued offline. At that time (as well as I am now), I
heavily depended on comparison with photos published by Floyd Hayes taken by
him during his studies and showing intermediates that were present in
breeding Caribbean colonies where both Cabot’s and “pure” Cayenne phenotypes can
be found and possibly Cayenne are interbreeding with Cabot’s Terns. BTW I
am very thankful to Floyd for all his observations and opinions he shared
with me in email exchanges. I am also trying to check hundreds of photos
available on the internet. Of course without further genetic studies nothing
can be solved but, I think, my new observations can help to discuss
probability of possible origin of intermediate forms and their dispersion.

A few selected photos to illustrate some of the subjects in this post:

1. A few bill examples (from all angles) of Cayenne-type Terns (chosen
from 50+ birds I found on UTC during this year spring migration)
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

2. Just to show how striking these terns can look
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

3. Examples of orange-red vs. yellow bills
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

4. Example of orange-red/black bill
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

5. Example of yellow/black bill
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

6. Egzample of mating between intermediate (male) and ‘pure’ Cabot’s
(female)
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

7. Example of yellow/black blotches % distribution – because of the bill
surface curvature it is very difficult to make precise estimate in photos–
so it is only very crude estimate
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...

8. Example (from 2013) of one from only a few integrates I found in past
years (and only with traces of yellow /orange blotches)
http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image...


At present there are two major proposals to deal with Sandwich-Cabot’
s-Cayenne-Elegant taxonomy.
1) 2 species, one with 3 subspecies (e.g. AOU)

Thalasseus sandvicensis sandvicensis (nominate) – Sandwich Tern; breeds
on the Atlantic, Baltic, Black, Caspian and Mediterranean coasts, wintering
from the Black, Caspian and Mediterranean Seas to the coasts of western and
southern Africa, and from the south Red Sea to the north-west India and
Sri Lanka.

T. s. acuflavida – Cabot’s Tern; breeds on the Atlantic coasts of North
America (from Virginia) and north Caribbean; wintering in the Caribbean and
further south in the South America, and on the Pacific coasts from southern
Mexico to northern Chile.

T. s. eurygnatha – Cayenne Tern, breeds on the Atlantic coasts of South
America from the Argentina north to the south Caribbean, currently expanding
breeding range north in the Caribbean, integrating with acuflavida in the
north of its range; several vagrants were found along the Atlantic coasts of
North America and once, two birds, on the Pacific coast of Columbia.
Interestingly there is a record from Panama entered this year (May 9) into eBird
by the Sapsucker Team.

Thalasseus elegans – Elegant Tern; widely distributed on the Pacific coast
of Americas from British Columbia to Chile but breeds only along coasts
from southern California (USA) to Baja California (Mexico), (more than 95%
species population breeds in colony on Isla Rasa); winters from the Mexico to
Chile. Several vagrants recorded in Europe and one from South Africa.
Unconfirmed records of possible elegans reported from South Africa, Canary
Islands, Argentina and Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)

2) 3 species, one with 2 subspecies (e.g. Efe et al.)

Thalasseus sandvicensis – Sandwich Tern (closely related to Royal and Great
Crested Terns)


Thalasseus acuflavida acuflavida (nominate) – Cabot’s Tern
T. a. eurygnatha – Cayenne Tern
(low genetic differentiation between both forms that are very likely
integrating in Caribbean and imply non-assortative mating behavior)


Thalasseus elegans – Elegant Tern (sister species to T. acuflavida)

When searching the web one can find other possible combinations, more or
less formal, from private opinions posted on blogs to pdf files uploaded by
organizations.

At this moment we are still facing many unsolved questions. The Cayenne
Terns bill variations are continuous and so not an example of polymorphism (as
already pointed out by some authors). Recent published study is rather
excluding a possibility of Cayenne to have rank of full species. The ‘pure’
Cabot’s type phenotype (black bill with only bill tip yellow) is found
breeding in North America and Caribbean during the boreal-summer only. The ‘pure’
Cayenne type phenotype (whole bill yellow with no even traces of black
blotches) and the intermediate forms (with clinal distribution and being most
common in northern part to least common in the deepest south area of
Cayenne distribution in Argentina) are breeding in Caribbean during
boreal-summer (overlap range and time with Cabot’s Terns) and during austral-summer in
South America. Intermediate forms (with yellow blotches on black bill; or
black blotches on yellow bill) among ‘pure’ Cayennes are found quite
commonly in West Indies from 1962 where due to recent Cabot’s breeding area
southern expansion and Cayenne northern breeding area expansion these races can
be found nesting together. The intermediate forms are, usually, treated as
Cayenne in austral-summer breeding populations (strong pro arguments used
are that Cabot’s Terns are not breeding there and there are no records of
banded Cayenne vagrants from Caribbean found in that part of range). The
intermediates from boreal-summer breeding populations on the other hand are
treated as hybrids or as an unsolved problem as they may indicate introgressed
alleles from Cabot’s Tern populations or simply genetic variability within
the taxon. Also, it was suggested that some Cayenne Terns have a mostly
black bill tipped with yellow; such birds closely resemble Sandwich Tern but
the yellow tip is usually more extensive.

Status of intermediates inside mixed Cabot’s and Cayenne breeding
colonies needs more studies. As Hayes suggested: a crucial, unresolved question
is whether individuals with phenotypically 'intermediate' bill coloration
(black with yellow/orange blotches or yellow/orange with black blotches)
represent: (1) variant phenotypes of genotypic ally ' pure' Cayenne Tern; (2)
hybrids between the two taxa; or (3) a mixture of both phenomena. BTW I
also heard one more opinion (private one) that perhaps bill color variations
might be a part of Cabot’s Tern phenotype as well – will back to that
later.

Up to now only a few single Cayenne and Cayenne-type terns were reported
from North America (first record 30 May 1983, North Carolina). There were a
few mentions of Cabot’s Tern that have traces of yellow blotches –
unfortunately I was not able to establish what exactly particular authors meant by ‘
traces’ – my emails were unanswered but I do not think this is an
important issue anyway. In my case I will use phrase “traces” when bill has only
one or few very small but well defined yellow blotches.

After I found the first two Cayenne-type terns on April 9 I decided to
continue search for more. During next few weeks (rest of April to beginning of
May) I found many large migrating Cabot’s Tern flocks resting along the
shore here. I tried to cover a quite long shoreline distance (part of the
Upper Texas Coast) but, sort of expected, in most flocks I found only ‘pure’
Cabot’s. A few flocks brought a very nice surprise. I ended up with about
50 birds that shown full spectrum of bill variations from traces to about
50/50 yellow/black bills. Unfortunately it takes a lot of time to process
all photos (I am still working on that) so I will only show a few examples.
As I was trying to get bill views from all angles I ended up with quite
large number of photos of many individual birds. Interestingly a few flocks
had about 10-15 Cayenne-type terns and usually I sighted every bird (except
one) only once despite trying to relocating flock with those birds the
following days. As many terns were courting and copulating I was trying to note
sex of some intermediates and also, as Hayes in his study, I observed that
despite the availability of other intermediates (some flocks were large, a
few hundred birds), no courting/mating was observed between
intermediates). These observations imply non-assortative mating, supporting treatment of
the two taxa as subspecies and not two distinctive species.

With all these Cayenne-type terns that seem to look like coming out of
woodwork this year on Upper Texas Coast one has to start asking questions.
Where they all came from? Are they a Cayenne, Cabot’s, integrates or mixture
of above phenomena. If intermediate bill variations are part of ‘pure’
eurygnatha phenotype why there is a clinal distribution with most
intermediates found within areas with mixed breeding colonies (e.g. Caribbean)? If they
are ‘pure’ acuflavida than why there are so few records in the past, only
in a very few places in North America, and none in most part of NA
breeding areas. Birds with traces of extra yellow blotches can be easy ignored or
even overlooked by most birders but what about birds with about 25-50% or
even larger yellow areas in the bill? How this could be overlooked or
ignored by so many people in the field for so many years?

In my opinion most plausible explanations could be: (1) most (if not all)
intermediates are intergrades between Cabot’s and Cayenne Terns and some
(most) of those are very likely already backcrosses that occurred in recent
years in some North American Cabot’s Tern breeding colonies (2) single ‘pure’
Cayenne vagrants might inbreed with Cabot’s Tern for quite long time,
producing offspring that was migrating back and forth and kept producing next
generations of backcrosses in NA in following years remaining undetected
(perhaps inside breeding colonies on isolated, not visited by humans,
islands).(3) In recent years due to north expansion of Cayenne Terns and
southern expansion of Cabot’s Terns breeding colonies both forms started to nest
together more often and producing larger number of intergrades. Some of
those could start to join wintering Cabot’s Terns in spring migrating flocks
when they were coming back to breeding colonies in North America. This
process could be initiated by courtship on wintering grounds, and as well as part
of expanding due to running out of available breeding grounds in
Caribbean. As we know available breeding grounds are not only limited but are also
shrinking due to continuous habitat lost (island development), human
disturbance (growing tourism) and even by natural need to leave old breeding
grounds due to accumulated ground contamination during past nesting seasons. My
observations (and others as well) of non-assortative mating support
hypothesis of possible initial courtship between Cabot’s and Cayenne Terns on Cabot
’s Terns wintering grounds and involved Cayenne Terns joining migrating
flocks of Cabot’s Terns.

I think we also should take under consideration that we only have very
little data and knowledge available about the past population ranges and
contact zones between Cabot’s and Cayenne Terns. Especially data collected on the
Cayenne populations is very poor and was mostly collected during past few
decades. We have a very little clue what was going on during the past
centuries and practically nothing about distribution in past millenniums; not to
even mention earlier time when both subspecies were evolving. It is
worth to mention that as recent as in 1955 (Junge and Voous) Cayenne was noted
as one of the rarest and least known of the world’s terns and in 1965
(Sick) the Cayenne distribution was described as remained somewhat puzzling. We
do not know if, and if so how many times, Cayenne populations were reduced
in the past and bottleneck effect occurred. Like in other parts of the
world seabirds and their eggs were, and still are, harvest for food consumption
and folk cures; many people still believe that seabird eggs possess very
strong aphrodisiac qualities. With so poor data and lack of genetic studies
it seems to be impossible to draw final conclusions now.

If in fact intermediate forms are hybrids than, due to non-assortative
mating behavior, many generations of backcrosses might already occurred in some
Cabot’s Tern colonies in North America producing increasing number of
birds with less and less traces of the yellow blotches on their bills compare
to a number of the hypothetical F1 hybrid (‘pure’ Cabot’s x ‘pure’
Cayenne) with the hypothetical ~50/50% of yellow/black pigment distribution). I
also hypothesize that the F1 hybrids are mostly produced in mixed colonies
in the Caribbean and only a few between ‘pure’ Cayenne vagrants (that are
very rare) and ‘pure’ Cabot’s parents in North America’s Cabot’ Tern
breeding colonies. B1 backcrosses will occur in both places but chances for a ‘
pure’ Cayenne backcross parent (to produce hypothetical ~75/25%
(yellow/black) hybrids in North America colonies are practically nonexistent contrary
to mixed colonies in Caribbean where they might occur from time to time;
backcrosses with ‘pure’ Cabot’s parents probably are common and (again due
to non-assortative mating behavior) more likely to occur as ‘pure’ Cabot’
s Terns often greatly outnumber ‘pure’ Cayenne Terns so Cabot’s Tern
backcross parents (versus ‘pure’ Cayenne or intermediate form) are statistically
most probably choice in random courting and mating.& In mixed breeding
colonies where both subspecies are interbreeding the number of intergrades
will grow in the successive generations so odds for intergrades to mate with
other integrates will become more probable.

I am well aware that my described scenarios are speculative. Without
further genetic studies all possible proposed explanations remain undecidable
for as long as we do not determinate genotypes of intermediate forms.

The leg coloration of Cayenne Tern adults. From published papers: most of
the Cayenne adult birds have the legs, including the feet and the webs,
black, but a small number, have the legs bright yellow. In addition there are
birds showing irregular patches of black or yellow in which either black or
yellow is predominating. There are also birds with uniform black legs and
toes, but with the underside of the webs conspicuously yellow. When
checking photos available on the internet I found all possible leg coloration
variations in ‘pure’ Cayenne (yellow-billed) and mostly black legs in
intermediates (none with predominantly yellow coloration). All intermediates I
found in Texas had black legs. Unfortunately almost all intermediates’ photos
I checked were taken in Brazil. I found only a very few photos taken in
Caribbean – area I am most interested to make comparison and to find out if
indeed black legs are practically almost exclusively dominant in
intermediate forms from mixed colonies.

The bill coloration of Cayenne and Cabot’s Tern adults. The color of pale
parts of the Cayenne bill is usually yellow but in some birds can be orange
or red. Especially the birds with orange-red bill coloration look similar
to Elegant Terns making identification of vagrants difficult. I did not find
paper that describes Cabot’s Tern bill tip color other than yellow
(including BNA account). In extreme case I found one Cabot’s with bright red bill
tip. Also I found that some juvenile Cabot’s can have orange-reddish bills.
BTW when I started to write this post I titled it first: “Large number of
Cayenne-type terns migrating through Texas this year, and bare parts color
aberrations in some terns”, and, for some reason, I thought it is going to
be relatively short post. Now I see it is not going to be a case so I
decided to write more about some interesting aberrant (bills and legs) cases
separately. I also gave up on including references as this would take an
extra page as well.

I included Elegant Tern in this discussion because of similar problem with
bill coloration patterns (black blotches on yellow/orange/red bills) that
occurs in the Elegant populations. These bicolored bill forms are usually
identified as (probable) hybrids between Elegant and Cabot’s Terns in
published papers but this view is opposed by some people (in private opinions) who
think that this phenomenon is just a part of the ‘pure’ Elegant phenotype
variations. One suggestion that seems to sound as a strong argument used
by the opposition is that the Elegant and Cabot’s Tern breeding grounds do
not overlap. On the other hand there is several published records of
possible interbreeding between both species on both coasts (Atlantic and Pacific)
– and as well between Sandwich (sandvicensis) and Elegant in Europe
(confirmed by DNA study). Elegant Tern can be confused with Cayenne in South
America and with Lesser Crested Tern in Europe. Especially confusion with
Cayenne can lead to easy overlook Elegant vagrants on the Atlantic side in
South America (and Cayenne vagrants on the Pacific side as well). There are
several well documented and accepted Elegant records in Europe (plus many
Elegant-type that were not accepted) and even places like South Africa.
Personally I think that many Elegant Tern vagrants can, and do, travel far from
what is thought to be their normal population range. Even here in Texas I
found two Elegant Terns in past two years (2013 and 2014; both records
accepted) – there were only 3 accepted records prior to my records (1889, 1985,
and 2001) and one between (2014). Again poor data collected only in recent
decades and lack of genetic studies should prevent us from excluding a
possibility of Elegant inbreeding with Cayenne occasionally, now and
especially in the past. These integrates could sport bills with orange/red
coloration; uniform or with black blotches.

There is a problem with entering Cayenne-type terns into the eBird
database. I entered first two records as Cayenne (with proper annotation and
supportive photos) only to find out that these were not accepted by reviewer so
they are not showing at all when somebody is searching for it. This was not
making sense to me to enter any more additional records. On the other hand
there are a couple of old Texas records from a different review region,
most likely of the same bird, without supporting material that evidently were
confirmed as they are showing in search results. It is making even less
sense to confirm some and not all, giving totally misleading scenario. Another
example is that there are several northern Cayenne records (along Atlantic
coast in North America) showing in eBird (most were published) but nothing
is showing in Florida where the record validating committee and eBird
reviewers are very restrictive and refuse to accept any Cayenne-type tern (even
with traces of black blotches) so it looks on eBird map like in Florida
Cayenne-type vagrants were never recorded. IMHO, for as long as problem is
not solved, all intermediate forms (including these from South America)should
be entered as Cayenne-type so anybody researching the data could have a
clear picture of intermediates distribution and frequency compare to the ‘pure
’ form inside and outside eurygnatha population range. This approach could
produce much more valuable data sets whatever these individuals are
hybrids or only a part of eurygnatha phenotype variations. Optimally two new
entry choices should be offered (1) Cayenne-type and (2) Cayenne/Cayenne-type
(e.g. birds observed from far away, etc.). I am aware that most birders do
not pay much attention to subspecies (no extra ticks) and even less
attention to intermediate forms but the records from those who do will stand up in
the crowd and provide important insights. These extra choices could help
reviewers as intermediates are easy to recognize in the photo or base on
detailed description included in the entry. Once the genetic studies are done
it would be an easy task to move all records to proper categories if the
intermediates belong only to one category (hybrid or ‘pure’ genotype). If
not (being a mixture of both phenomena) it might be impossible to safely
identify intermediate forms in the field so all records should remain as
Cayenne-type.
.
As my observation of so large number of the Cayenne-type Terns entering
North America seems (to my best knowledge only single birds were observed
before) to be never recorded before I hope that my post will trigger
discussion on this phenomenon.

Cheers,

Mark B Bartosik
Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Fri Jul 3 2015 15:19 pm
From: andrewcore AT gmail.com
 
Hi Nick,

Tropical Kingbirds generally begin arriving in southern Arizona the first
week of May (rarely at the end of April).

http://ebird.org/ebird/GuideMe?src=changeDate&speciesCodes=trokin&getLocations=counties&counties=US-AZ-003%2CUS-AZ-019%2CUS-AZ-021%2CUS-AZ-023&parentState=US-AZ&reportType=species&monthRadio=on&bMonth=04&eMonth=05&bYear=1900&eYear=2015&continue.x=65&continue.y=6&continue=Continue

Andrew

--
Andrew Core
Tucson, AZ

On Fri, Jul 3, 2015 at 12:25 PM, Lethaby, Nick wrote:

> What is the thinking on California TKs at this time of year? When do the
> breeders arrive in AZ?
>
> Peter Pyle wrote:
>
>
> Hi Roger and all -
>
> David Sibley also forwarded an open-wing shot of the kingbird taken
> by Annabelle Watts. My response below applies as well to your photos
> just posted (where you can see all primaries replaced but the
> secondaries still old, but not looking old enough for juvenile
> feathers), although the outer primary tip is not visible. We both
> think that summer records of Tropical Kingbirds in eastern North
> America may most likely be of nominate Austral migrants, and this
> would seem to indicate the potential for White-throated Kingbird to
> show up as well.
>
> Peter
>
> The flight shot by Annabelle Watts is quite useful in that it
> indicates it to be an adult female. Had it been a first-year bird
> undergoing the preformative molt we would expect it to have an
> eccentric pattern (retaining inner primaries and beginning molt at
> p4-p7) instead of showing all inner primaries replaced. (It seems
> close to all kingbird individuals undergo eccentric preformative
> molts, except in Eastern Kingbird where all primaries are usually
> replaced.) Also the outer primaries and secondaries on the Minnesota
> bird do not look like juvenile feathers to me, with enough of a notch
> to p10 to indicate a formative or basic feather in a female. I had
> suspected this based on what I could see in Roger Evehart's photo but
> I was not sure enough.
>
> The time frame for completing the prebasic molt in occidentalis would
> be Nov according the ID Guide, but it would not surprise me if these
> molts regularly extend into winter or early spring. We're finding
> that birds undergoing flight-feather molt on Neotropical winter
> grounds tend to protract it more than is published, due to lack of
> food and other constraints, only needing to complete it before spring
> migration. Thus, I'd expect occidentalis could easily be completing a
> prebasic molt in Nov-Jan or later. As such, the molt timing of the
> Minnesota bird is six months off cycle and would indicate an Austral
> migrant. I don't see the prebasic molt being anywhere close to this
> stage in late June, in any Boreal-cycle kingbird.
>
> The outer rectrices of the Ontario kingbird
> http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod
> look like juvenile feathers by shape, but do not show the extreme
> wear that juvenile feathers would show if it was a year-old
> occidentalis. Plus, the juvenile rectrices are often replaced during
> the preformative molt (although the ID Guide splits the
> flight-feather molt into preformative and first prealternate, I would
> tend now to call it all part of a protracted preformative molt
> overlapping first-prealternate body feather molt). The outer primary,
> from what I can see of it, looks brownish and pointed like a juvenile
> feather and it almost looks like p9 might be missing and p8 growing,
> but this is just a speculative hunch. Too bad there are not more
> photos. But if my hunches are correct it would indicate the bird may
> have been completing the preformative molt, again about six months
> off what would be expected of occidentalis.
>
> I don't know how this might equate to molt and migration in nominate
> Tropical Kingbird or White-throated Kingbird, but it seems reasonable
> that they could show molt patterns similar to Boreal
> conspecific/congeners but six months off cycle. I'll be interested in
> further thoughts and documentation on these or any other vagrant
> summer Tropical Kingbirds. The Farallon specimen has unfortunately
> been misplaced, but I still hope it turns up somewhere for analysis
> of molt timing and age.
>
>
> At 08:37 AM 7/3/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
> >Based on Peter's comments I went back and found a couple of photos of
> >the Minnesota Kingbird that may (or may not) help the discussion. I
> >posted them at
> >
> >http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogs...
> >
> >Hope this helps.
> >
> >Roger Everhart
> >Apple Valley, MN
> >
> >
> >---- Original Message ----
> >From: ppyle@birdpop.org
> >To: everhart@BLACK-HOLE.COM, wormington@JUNO.COM
> >Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
> >Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:57:07 -0700
> >
> > >I'm not certain of this, but it seems both the Minnesota and the
> > >Ontario kingbirds may be on molt cycles reflecting an Austral rather
> > >than a Boreal breeding and migrating populations. The Minnesota bird
> > >is completing a molt and I thought that the Ontario bird may still
> > >have juvenile outer rectrices and outer primary (but not worn enough
> > >to be a year old). Better photos of each, with open wings and tails,
> > >would help determine molt progression and age. For northern Tropical
> > >Kingbirds (occidentalis) we would expect to see molt patterns like
> > >this in Nov-Dec on the winter grounds (both preformative and
> > >prebasic) and not June. Something to consider when encountering and
> > >documenting summer kingbirds in North America.
> > >
> > >Peter
> > >
> > >At 10:59 AM 7/2/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
> > >>Hey everyone-
> > >>
> > >> I went out to chase the Tropical Kingbird that has been seen at
> > >>Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis/St. Paul and got a few
> > >>photos that I have posted here:
> > >>
> > >>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogspot.com
> > >>
> > >> The bird was seen off and on between about 7 am and 9:30 am. It
> > >>did not vocalize while I was there.
> > >>
> > >>Roger Everhart
> > >>Apple Valley, MN
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...



Subject: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Fri Jul 3 2015 14:44 pm
From: nlethaby AT ti.com
 
What is the thinking on California TKs at this time of year? When do the breeders arrive in AZ?

Peter Pyle wrote:


Hi Roger and all -

David Sibley also forwarded an open-wing shot of the kingbird taken
by Annabelle Watts. My response below applies as well to your photos
just posted (where you can see all primaries replaced but the
secondaries still old, but not looking old enough for juvenile
feathers), although the outer primary tip is not visible. We both
think that summer records of Tropical Kingbirds in eastern North
America may most likely be of nominate Austral migrants, and this
would seem to indicate the potential for White-throated Kingbird to
show up as well.

Peter

The flight shot by Annabelle Watts is quite useful in that it
indicates it to be an adult female. Had it been a first-year bird
undergoing the preformative molt we would expect it to have an
eccentric pattern (retaining inner primaries and beginning molt at
p4-p7) instead of showing all inner primaries replaced. (It seems
close to all kingbird individuals undergo eccentric preformative
molts, except in Eastern Kingbird where all primaries are usually
replaced.) Also the outer primaries and secondaries on the Minnesota
bird do not look like juvenile feathers to me, with enough of a notch
to p10 to indicate a formative or basic feather in a female. I had
suspected this based on what I could see in Roger Evehart's photo but
I was not sure enough.

The time frame for completing the prebasic molt in occidentalis would
be Nov according the ID Guide, but it would not surprise me if these
molts regularly extend into winter or early spring. We're finding
that birds undergoing flight-feather molt on Neotropical winter
grounds tend to protract it more than is published, due to lack of
food and other constraints, only needing to complete it before spring
migration. Thus, I'd expect occidentalis could easily be completing a
prebasic molt in Nov-Jan or later. As such, the molt timing of the
Minnesota bird is six months off cycle and would indicate an Austral
migrant. I don't see the prebasic molt being anywhere close to this
stage in late June, in any Boreal-cycle kingbird.

The outer rectrices of the Ontario kingbird
http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod
look like juvenile feathers by shape, but do not show the extreme
wear that juvenile feathers would show if it was a year-old
occidentalis. Plus, the juvenile rectrices are often replaced during
the preformative molt (although the ID Guide splits the
flight-feather molt into preformative and first prealternate, I would
tend now to call it all part of a protracted preformative molt
overlapping first-prealternate body feather molt). The outer primary,
from what I can see of it, looks brownish and pointed like a juvenile
feather and it almost looks like p9 might be missing and p8 growing,
but this is just a speculative hunch. Too bad there are not more
photos. But if my hunches are correct it would indicate the bird may
have been completing the preformative molt, again about six months
off what would be expected of occidentalis.

I don't know how this might equate to molt and migration in nominate
Tropical Kingbird or White-throated Kingbird, but it seems reasonable
that they could show molt patterns similar to Boreal
conspecific/congeners but six months off cycle. I'll be interested in
further thoughts and documentation on these or any other vagrant
summer Tropical Kingbirds. The Farallon specimen has unfortunately
been misplaced, but I still hope it turns up somewhere for analysis
of molt timing and age.


At 08:37 AM 7/3/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
>Based on Peter's comments I went back and found a couple of photos of
>the Minnesota Kingbird that may (or may not) help the discussion. I
>posted them at
>
>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogs...
>
>Hope this helps.
>
>Roger Everhart
>Apple Valley, MN
>
>
>---- Original Message ----
>From: ppyle@birdpop.org
>To: everhart@BLACK-HOLE.COM, wormington@JUNO.COM
>Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
>Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:57:07 -0700
>
> >I'm not certain of this, but it seems both the Minnesota and the
> >Ontario kingbirds may be on molt cycles reflecting an Austral rather
> >than a Boreal breeding and migrating populations. The Minnesota bird
> >is completing a molt and I thought that the Ontario bird may still
> >have juvenile outer rectrices and outer primary (but not worn enough
> >to be a year old). Better photos of each, with open wings and tails,
> >would help determine molt progression and age. For northern Tropical
> >Kingbirds (occidentalis) we would expect to see molt patterns like
> >this in Nov-Dec on the winter grounds (both preformative and
> >prebasic) and not June. Something to consider when encountering and
> >documenting summer kingbirds in North America.
> >
> >Peter
> >
> >At 10:59 AM 7/2/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
> >>Hey everyone-
> >>
> >> I went out to chase the Tropical Kingbird that has been seen at
> >>Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis/St. Paul and got a few
> >>photos that I have posted here:
> >>
> >>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogspot.com
> >>
> >> The bird was seen off and on between about 7 am and 9:30 am. It
> >>did not vocalize while I was there.
> >>
> >>Roger Everhart
> >>Apple Valley, MN
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
> >
>
>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Fri Jul 3 2015 14:00 pm
From: chucao AT coastside.net
 
Peter
This is great information, and I thank you for putting the Austral migrant
theory to the test. However, Austral migrant Tropicals and White-throated
are a tad different in the migration distance. I agree though, one should be
on the lookout for White-throated. Austral migrant Tropical Kingbirds move a
much greater distance than White-throated. They are almost on par with
Austral migrant Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and Brown-chested Martin. Another
cryptic species vagrant we should be on the lookout for is rubinus Vermilion
Flycatcher, another long distance Austral migrant and add to the list
Blue-and-white Swallow and if you want a real challenge Southern Martin.
These are amongst the longest distance migrants of the south, there are a
ton of other Austral migrants, but most have more modest migration
distances.
By the way, Austral migrant Tropical Kingbirds have slightly different
songs. A difference in pitch from what I recall, compared to northern birds.
I have done a few playback experiments, but did not come up with anything
noteworthy from what I remember.

Take care,
Alvaro
Alvaro Jaramillo
alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
www.alvarosadventures.com

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter Pyle
Sent: Friday, July 03, 2015 11:25 AM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Minnesota Tropical Kingbird

Hi Roger and all -

David Sibley also forwarded an open-wing shot of the kingbird taken by
Annabelle Watts. My response below applies as well to your photos just
posted (where you can see all primaries replaced but the secondaries still
old, but not looking old enough for juvenile feathers), although the outer
primary tip is not visible. We both think that summer records of Tropical
Kingbirds in eastern North America may most likely be of nominate Austral
migrants, and this would seem to indicate the potential for White-throated
Kingbird to show up as well.

Peter

The flight shot by Annabelle Watts is quite useful in that it indicates it
to be an adult female. Had it been a first-year bird undergoing the
preformative molt we would expect it to have an eccentric pattern (retaining
inner primaries and beginning molt at
p4-p7) instead of showing all inner primaries replaced. (It seems close to
all kingbird individuals undergo eccentric preformative molts, except in
Eastern Kingbird where all primaries are usually
replaced.) Also the outer primaries and secondaries on the Minnesota bird
do not look like juvenile feathers to me, with enough of a notch to p10 to
indicate a formative or basic feather in a female. I had suspected this
based on what I could see in Roger Evehart's photo but I was not sure
enough.

The time frame for completing the prebasic molt in occidentalis would be Nov
according the ID Guide, but it would not surprise me if these molts
regularly extend into winter or early spring. We're finding that birds
undergoing flight-feather molt on Neotropical winter grounds tend to
protract it more than is published, due to lack of food and other
constraints, only needing to complete it before spring migration. Thus, I'd
expect occidentalis could easily be completing a prebasic molt in Nov-Jan or
later. As such, the molt timing of the Minnesota bird is six months off
cycle and would indicate an Austral migrant. I don't see the prebasic molt
being anywhere close to this stage in late June, in any Boreal-cycle
kingbird.

The outer rectrices of the Ontario kingbird http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod look
like juvenile feathers by shape, but do not show the extreme wear that
juvenile feathers would show if it was a year-old occidentalis. Plus, the
juvenile rectrices are often replaced during the preformative molt (although
the ID Guide splits the flight-feather molt into preformative and first
prealternate, I would tend now to call it all part of a protracted
preformative molt overlapping first-prealternate body feather molt). The
outer primary, from what I can see of it, looks brownish and pointed like a
juvenile feather and it almost looks like p9 might be missing and p8
growing, but this is just a speculative hunch. Too bad there are not more
photos. But if my hunches are correct it would indicate the bird may have
been completing the preformative molt, again about six months off what would
be expected of occidentalis.

I don't know how this might equate to molt and migration in nominate
Tropical Kingbird or White-throated Kingbird, but it seems reasonable that
they could show molt patterns similar to Boreal conspecific/congeners but
six months off cycle. I'll be interested in further thoughts and
documentation on these or any other vagrant summer Tropical Kingbirds. The
Farallon specimen has unfortunately been misplaced, but I still hope it
turns up somewhere for analysis of molt timing and age.


At 08:37 AM 7/3/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
>Based on Peter's comments I went back and found a couple of photos of
>the Minnesota Kingbird that may (or may not) help the discussion. I
>posted them at
>
>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogs...
>
>Hope this helps.
>
>Roger Everhart
>Apple Valley, MN
>
>
>---- Original Message ----
>From: ppyle@birdpop.org
>To: everhart@BLACK-HOLE.COM, wormington@JUNO.COM
>Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
>Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:57:07 -0700
>
> >I'm not certain of this, but it seems both the Minnesota and the
> >Ontario kingbirds may be on molt cycles reflecting an Austral rather
> >than a Boreal breeding and migrating populations. The Minnesota bird
> >is completing a molt and I thought that the Ontario bird may still
> >have juvenile outer rectrices and outer primary (but not worn enough
> >to be a year old). Better photos of each, with open wings and tails,
> >would help determine molt progression and age. For northern Tropical
> >Kingbirds (occidentalis) we would expect to see molt patterns like
> >this in Nov-Dec on the winter grounds (both preformative and
> >prebasic) and not June. Something to consider when encountering and
> >documenting summer kingbirds in North America.
> >
> >Peter
> >
> >At 10:59 AM 7/2/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
> >>Hey everyone-
> >>
> >> I went out to chase the Tropical Kingbird that has been seen at
> >>Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis/St. Paul and got a few
> >>photos that I have posted here:
> >>
> >>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogspot.com
> >>
> >> The bird was seen off and on between about 7 am and 9:30 am. It
> >>did not vocalize while I was there.
> >>
> >>Roger Everhart
> >>Apple Valley, MN
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
> >
>
>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Fri Jul 3 2015 13:39 pm
From: ppyle AT birdpop.org
 
Hi Roger and all -

David Sibley also forwarded an open-wing shot of the kingbird taken
by Annabelle Watts. My response below applies as well to your photos
just posted (where you can see all primaries replaced but the
secondaries still old, but not looking old enough for juvenile
feathers), although the outer primary tip is not visible. We both
think that summer records of Tropical Kingbirds in eastern North
America may most likely be of nominate Austral migrants, and this
would seem to indicate the potential for White-throated Kingbird to
show up as well.

Peter

The flight shot by Annabelle Watts is quite useful in that it
indicates it to be an adult female. Had it been a first-year bird
undergoing the preformative molt we would expect it to have an
eccentric pattern (retaining inner primaries and beginning molt at
p4-p7) instead of showing all inner primaries replaced. (It seems
close to all kingbird individuals undergo eccentric preformative
molts, except in Eastern Kingbird where all primaries are usually
replaced.) Also the outer primaries and secondaries on the Minnesota
bird do not look like juvenile feathers to me, with enough of a notch
to p10 to indicate a formative or basic feather in a female. I had
suspected this based on what I could see in Roger Evehart's photo but
I was not sure enough.

The time frame for completing the prebasic molt in occidentalis would
be Nov according the ID Guide, but it would not surprise me if these
molts regularly extend into winter or early spring. We're finding
that birds undergoing flight-feather molt on Neotropical winter
grounds tend to protract it more than is published, due to lack of
food and other constraints, only needing to complete it before spring
migration. Thus, I'd expect occidentalis could easily be completing a
prebasic molt in Nov-Jan or later. As such, the molt timing of the
Minnesota bird is six months off cycle and would indicate an Austral
migrant. I don't see the prebasic molt being anywhere close to this
stage in late June, in any Boreal-cycle kingbird.

The outer rectrices of the Ontario kingbird
http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod
look like juvenile feathers by shape, but do not show the extreme
wear that juvenile feathers would show if it was a year-old
occidentalis. Plus, the juvenile rectrices are often replaced during
the preformative molt (although the ID Guide splits the
flight-feather molt into preformative and first prealternate, I would
tend now to call it all part of a protracted preformative molt
overlapping first-prealternate body feather molt). The outer primary,
from what I can see of it, looks brownish and pointed like a juvenile
feather and it almost looks like p9 might be missing and p8 growing,
but this is just a speculative hunch. Too bad there are not more
photos. But if my hunches are correct it would indicate the bird may
have been completing the preformative molt, again about six months
off what would be expected of occidentalis.

I don't know how this might equate to molt and migration in nominate
Tropical Kingbird or White-throated Kingbird, but it seems reasonable
that they could show molt patterns similar to Boreal
conspecific/congeners but six months off cycle. I'll be interested in
further thoughts and documentation on these or any other vagrant
summer Tropical Kingbirds. The Farallon specimen has unfortunately
been misplaced, but I still hope it turns up somewhere for analysis
of molt timing and age.


At 08:37 AM 7/3/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
>Based on Peter's comments I went back and found a couple of photos of
>the Minnesota Kingbird that may (or may not) help the discussion. I
>posted them at
>
>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogs...
>
>Hope this helps.
>
>Roger Everhart
>Apple Valley, MN
>
>
>---- Original Message ----
>From: ppyle@birdpop.org
>To: everhart@BLACK-HOLE.COM, wormington@JUNO.COM
>Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
>Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:57:07 -0700
>
> >I'm not certain of this, but it seems both the Minnesota and the
> >Ontario kingbirds may be on molt cycles reflecting an Austral rather
> >than a Boreal breeding and migrating populations. The Minnesota bird
> >is completing a molt and I thought that the Ontario bird may still
> >have juvenile outer rectrices and outer primary (but not worn enough
> >to be a year old). Better photos of each, with open wings and tails,
> >would help determine molt progression and age. For northern Tropical
> >Kingbirds (occidentalis) we would expect to see molt patterns like
> >this in Nov-Dec on the winter grounds (both preformative and
> >prebasic) and not June. Something to consider when encountering and
> >documenting summer kingbirds in North America.
> >
> >Peter
> >
> >At 10:59 AM 7/2/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
> >>Hey everyone-
> >>
> >> I went out to chase the Tropical Kingbird that has been seen at
> >>Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis/St. Paul and got a few
> >>photos that I have posted here:
> >>
> >>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogspot.com
> >>
> >> The bird was seen off and on between about 7 am and 9:30 am. It
> >>did not vocalize while I was there.
> >>
> >>Roger Everhart
> >>Apple Valley, MN
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
> >
>
>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Fri Jul 3 2015 11:16 am
From: everhart AT black-hole.com
 
Based on Peter's comments I went back and found a couple of photos of
the Minnesota Kingbird that may (or may not) help the discussion. I
posted them at

http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogs...

Hope this helps.

Roger Everhart
Apple Valley, MN


---- Original Message ----
From: ppyle@birdpop.org
To: everhart@BLACK-HOLE.COM, wormington@JUNO.COM
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:57:07 -0700

>I'm not certain of this, but it seems both the Minnesota and the
>Ontario kingbirds may be on molt cycles reflecting an Austral rather
>than a Boreal breeding and migrating populations. The Minnesota bird
>is completing a molt and I thought that the Ontario bird may still
>have juvenile outer rectrices and outer primary (but not worn enough
>to be a year old). Better photos of each, with open wings and tails,
>would help determine molt progression and age. For northern Tropical
>Kingbirds (occidentalis) we would expect to see molt patterns like
>this in Nov-Dec on the winter grounds (both preformative and
>prebasic) and not June. Something to consider when encountering and
>documenting summer kingbirds in North America.
>
>Peter
>
>At 10:59 AM 7/2/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
>>Hey everyone-
>>
>> I went out to chase the Tropical Kingbird that has been seen at
>>Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis/St. Paul and got a few
>>photos that I have posted here:
>>
>>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogspot.com
>>
>> The bird was seen off and on between about 7 am and 9:30 am. It
>>did not vocalize while I was there.
>>
>>Roger Everhart
>>Apple Valley, MN
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Minnesota Tropical Kingbird
Date: Thu Jul 2 2015 15:33 pm
From: ppyle AT birdpop.org
 
I'm not certain of this, but it seems both the Minnesota and the
Ontario kingbirds may be on molt cycles reflecting an Austral rather
than a Boreal breeding and migrating populations. The Minnesota bird
is completing a molt and I thought that the Ontario bird may still
have juvenile outer rectrices and outer primary (but not worn enough
to be a year old). Better photos of each, with open wings and tails,
would help determine molt progression and age. For northern Tropical
Kingbirds (occidentalis) we would expect to see molt patterns like
this in Nov-Dec on the winter grounds (both preformative and
prebasic) and not June. Something to consider when encountering and
documenting summer kingbirds in North America.

Peter

At 10:59 AM 7/2/2015, R.D. Everhart wrote:
>Hey everyone-
>
> I went out to chase the Tropical Kingbird that has been seen at
>Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis/St. Paul and got a few
>photos that I have posted here:
>
>http://minnesotabirdnerd.blogs...
>
> The bird was seen off and on between about 7 am and 9:30 am. It
>did not vocalize while I was there.
>
>Roger Everhart
>Apple Valley, MN
>
>
>
>
>
>Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
Date: Thu Jul 2 2015 0:30 am
From: jacob.socolar AT gmail.com
 
For what it's worth, this bird strikes me as large-billed, heavyset, and
dark headed for White-throated Kingbird. However, if this were within
range for both Tropical and White-throated, I would hesitate to rule
White-throated out, because photos can create misleading impressions of
these characters. One mark that might actually support White-throated is
the clean lemon-yellow chest, with no olive or dusky smudging. Combined
with structure, this is a strong and reasonably reliable confirmatory mark,
at least when differentiating resident Tropicals and nonbreeding
White-throateds in Peru.

Cheers
Jacob Socolar

On Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 10:19 PM, Alvaro Jaramillo
wrote:

> Nick,
> The southern hemisphere population is highly migratory. In fact it is
> the
> most migratory of all Tropical Kingbirds, the migration is similar to that
> of Fork-tailed Flycatcher although they do not winter as far north. If you
> had a grossly overshooting bird, it could wind up in the Eastern US/Canada
> during May-June.
>
> Regards,
> Alvaro
> Alvaro Jaramillo
> alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
> www.alvarosadventures.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
> [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Lethaby, Nick
> Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 3:57 PM
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
>
> I would tend to agree that the bill looks short for the TKs we see in CA in
> fall (and in most of W. Mexico). However, I would guess there are multiple
> subspecies of TK and one in ON in fall might be some other one. I recall
> some of the TKs I saw in Chiapas this winter looked rather different to
> birds further N.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
> [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Alan Wormington
> Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 1:55 PM
> To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
> Subject: [BIRDWG01] Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
>
> MYSTERY KINGBIRD IN ONTARIO
>
> On June 27 a silent Tropical/Couch's type kingbird was photographed by
> David
> White while kayaking around Upper Duck Island in the Ottawa River at
> Ottawa, Ontario. There are apparently only three photos in total, all of
> which can be seen here:
>
> http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod
>
> Originally there was a general consensus that the bill looked too short for
> Tropical Kingbird. However, several measurements made from the photos
> actually indicate that Tropical Kingbird seems like the most likely
> species.
> Measurements made included (1) short primary extension; (2)
> culmen/wing ratio; and (3) tail fork versus bill length. Even so, the
> person making these measurements indicated that they should not be
> considered definitive due to only (3) photos being available for analysis.
>
> It was suggested that White-throated Kingbird (Tyrannus albogularis) should
> also be considered, since that species is a partial east-west migrant
> within
> South America.
>
> Any opinions on this bird would be most welcome.
>
> Alan Wormington
> Leamington, Ontario
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html
>

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
Date: Wed Jul 1 2015 21:56 pm
From: chucao AT coastside.net
 
Nick,
The southern hemisphere population is highly migratory. In fact it is the
most migratory of all Tropical Kingbirds, the migration is similar to that
of Fork-tailed Flycatcher although they do not winter as far north. If you
had a grossly overshooting bird, it could wind up in the Eastern US/Canada
during May-June.

Regards,
Alvaro
Alvaro Jaramillo
alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
www.alvarosadventures.com

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Lethaby, Nick
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 3:57 PM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: Re: [BIRDWG01] Mystery Kingbird in Ontario

I would tend to agree that the bill looks short for the TKs we see in CA in
fall (and in most of W. Mexico). However, I would guess there are multiple
subspecies of TK and one in ON in fall might be some other one. I recall
some of the TKs I saw in Chiapas this winter looked rather different to
birds further N.

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification
[mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Alan Wormington
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 1:55 PM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: [BIRDWG01] Mystery Kingbird in Ontario

MYSTERY KINGBIRD IN ONTARIO

On June 27 a silent Tropical/Couch's type kingbird was photographed by David
White while kayaking around Upper Duck Island in the Ottawa River at
Ottawa, Ontario. There are apparently only three photos in total, all of
which can be seen here:

http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod

Originally there was a general consensus that the bill looked too short for
Tropical Kingbird. However, several measurements made from the photos
actually indicate that Tropical Kingbird seems like the most likely species.
Measurements made included (1) short primary extension; (2)
culmen/wing ratio; and (3) tail fork versus bill length. Even so, the
person making these measurements indicated that they should not be
considered definitive due to only (3) photos being available for analysis.

It was suggested that White-throated Kingbird (Tyrannus albogularis) should
also be considered, since that species is a partial east-west migrant within
South America.

Any opinions on this bird would be most welcome.

Alan Wormington
Leamington, Ontario

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
Date: Wed Jul 1 2015 18:45 pm
From: heraldpetrel AT gmail.com
 
Alan

I'm not sure this is identifiable as one or the other based on these
images, but for what it's worth (not much), the GISS of this bird suggests
Tropical over Couch's to me. The bill looks big and the tail is loosely
held with a deep notch.

Thanks

Brian

On Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 1:55 PM, Alan Wormington wrote:

> MYSTERY KINGBIRD IN ONTARIO
>
> On June 27 a silent Tropical/Couch's type kingbird was photographed by
> David White while kayaking around Upper Duck Island in the Ottawa River at
> Ottawa, Ontario. There are apparently only three photos in total, all of
> which can be seen here:
>
> http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod
>
> Originally there was a general consensus that the bill looked too short
> for Tropical Kingbird. However, several measurements made from the photos
> actually indicate that Tropical Kingbird seems like the most likely
> species. Measurements made included (1) short primary extension;
> (2) culmen/wing ratio; and (3) tail fork versus bill length. Even so, the
> person making these measurements indicated that they should not be
> considered definitive due to only (3) photos being available for analysis.
>
> It was suggested that White-throated Kingbird (Tyrannus albogularis)
> should also be considered, since that species is a partial east-west
> migrant within South America.
>
> Any opinions on this bird would be most welcome.
>
> Alan Wormington
> Leamington, Ontario
>
> Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...
>



--
==========

*Brian L. SullivaneBird Project Leader *
www.ebird.org

*Photo Editor*
Birds of North America Online
http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/B...
-------------------------------

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
Date: Wed Jul 1 2015 18:45 pm
From: nlethaby AT ti.com
 
I would tend to agree that the bill looks short for the TKs we see in CA in fall (and in most of W. Mexico). However, I would guess there are multiple subspecies of TK and one in ON in fall might be some other one. I recall some of the TKs I saw in Chiapas this winter looked rather different to birds further N.

-----Original Message-----
From: NBHC ID-FRONTIERS Frontiers of Field Identification [mailto:BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Alan Wormington
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2015 1:55 PM
To: BIRDWG01 AT LISTSERV.KSU.EDU
Subject: [BIRDWG01] Mystery Kingbird in Ontario

MYSTERY KINGBIRD IN ONTARIO

On June 27 a silent Tropical/Couch's type kingbird was photographed by David White while kayaking around Upper Duck Island in the Ottawa River at Ottawa, Ontario. There are apparently only three photos in total, all of which can be seen here:

http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod

Originally there was a general consensus that the bill looked too short for Tropical Kingbird. However, several measurements made from the photos actually indicate that Tropical Kingbird seems like the most likely species. Measurements made included (1) short primary extension; (2) culmen/wing ratio; and (3) tail fork versus bill length. Even so, the person making these measurements indicated that they should not be considered definitive due to only (3) photos being available for analysis.

It was suggested that White-throated Kingbird (Tyrannus albogularis) should also be considered, since that species is a partial east-west migrant within South America.

Any opinions on this bird would be most welcome.

Alan Wormington
Leamington, Ontario

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/birdwg01.html



Subject: Mystery Kingbird in Ontario
Date: Wed Jul 1 2015 16:34 pm
From: wormington AT juno.com
 
MYSTERY KINGBIRD IN ONTARIO

On June 27 a silent Tropical/Couch's type kingbird was photographed by David White while kayaking around Upper Duck Island in the Ottawa River at Ottawa, Ontario. There are apparently only three photos in total, all of which can be seen here:

http://tinyurl.com/pr5dmod

Originally there was a general consensus that the bill looked too short for Tropical Kingbird. However, several measurements made from the photos actually indicate that Tropical Kingbird seems like the most likely species. Measurements made included (1) short primary extension; (2) culmen/wing ratio; and (3) tail fork versus bill length. Even so, the person making these measurements indicated that they should not be considered definitive due to only (3) photos being available for analysis.

It was suggested that White-throated Kingbird (Tyrannus albogularis) should also be considered, since that species is a partial east-west migrant within South America.

Any opinions on this bird would be most welcome.

Alan Wormington
Leamington, Ontario

Archives: http://listserv.ksu.edu/archiv...


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