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RE: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification Rick Howie Mon Feb 20 08:00:40 2012

Thanks Barry: so if the middle bird is an adult, I must confess to being a
bit stumped.  If it is a male, the lack of general red colouration suggests
then that it is likely P.e. montanus which is the race that shows the least
amount of red feathering and perhaps a lack of red breast feathering is a
recognized variation.  If it is a russet adult female (albeit a pretty
bright one), I  don't know which race it is. 

 

So what, in fact do I know.?  Apparently not much. All birds in the photos
are Pine Grosbeaks - perhaps I should stop there.  I may forward the photos
on to Sibley or the author of the BNA account and end the fumbling in the
dark. It has been a good exercise for me in learning what I don't know in
attempting to reach a conclusion based upon the most easily available
literature in the form of field guides and so forth. It begs the question of
just how anyone reaches a comfortable conclusion about sub-species
association in Pine Grobeak without a bird in hand.  Perhaps a faulty
mission or is this  a common variation of P.e. montanus and I have just
never focussed on the question and have been ignorant all of these years - a
most likely possibility of course.

 

Rick Howie

Kamloops  

 

 

From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
[mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of M Lancaster
Sent: February-20-12 1:54 AM
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Subject: Re: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification

 

I do not see any limits on any bird - that does not mean there aren't any,
but GC limits usually are pretty obvious and by now, a bird hatched last
year in summer should be exhibiting wear (and or fading) of the rectrices
and the remiges. I don't see any - that does not mean there isn't any. The
primaries and the tail feathers on all three birds look similar to me - they
look damn good!

 

Does Pyle not say that there is a moult limit within the GCs? See below for
BNA

 


Basic I Plumage


Prebasic I molt partial; includes body-feathers, some to all lesser and
median upperwing-coverts, and 0 (approx. 23% of birds) to 10 (approx. 3%)
inner greater wing-coverts, but no remiges or rectrices (
<http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/456/articles/species/456/biblio/bi
b077> Pyle 1997). Molt occurs late Jul to late Sep (CSA).

This is an interesting URL
<http://www.google.es/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=pine+grosbeak+moult&btnG=>
http://www.google.es/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=pine+grosbeak+moult&btnG=

 

So, in a nutshell ( or a pine cone) I believe that all the birds are adult,
BUT as I said, I am not familiar with them and have never handled them. Now,
having said that, I have had another look and if one looks at tail shape of
the middle bird (two images)  the feathers ARE rather pointed (and
logically,  it, should be a second year male) but the two adults cannot be
seen clearly and often with finches, the tail feathers are rather pointed
anyway.

 

But the feather quality is - to me, indicative of recently moulted feathers
not feathers grown some 7 months ago.

 

Away you go Alistair, more pictures please :-) :-)

 

Barry

M B Lancaster,
Currently - Tenerife, Islas Canarias

----- Original Message ----- 

From: Rick Howie <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>  

To: [EMAIL PROTECTED] 

Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 8:01 AM

Subject: RE: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification

 

He does indicate a molt limit between the median and greater coverts.  In
your experience, do you see one in the attached photos. I don't have the
experience.  If not, are you suggesting that the middle 2 represent an adult
bird?

 

Rick Howie  

 

 

From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
[mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of M Lancaster
Sent: February-19-12 10:23 PM
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Subject: Re: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification

 

Does not Pyle state that there should be a moult limit in the greater
coverts of second year birds? (as does BNA)

 

Barry

M B Lancaster,
Currently - Tenerife, Islas Canarias

----- Original Message ----- 

From: Rick Howie <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>  

To: [EMAIL PROTECTED] 

Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 5:38 AM

Subject: RE: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification

 

HI Barry, Alistair et al: let me begin by saying that my discussion is akin
to the old saying of "the blind leading the blind."  None of us have the
experience of having looked at and handled specimens from all of the
designated races of Pine Grosbeak so we are attempting to make sense based
upon the writings of others, so we need to decide who the experts really are
that we can trust. So with that caveat, here goes.

 

In Birds of BC, 4 of the then 8 sub-species in North America were believed
to breed in BC.   Pinicola enucleator montana breeds from the central
through the southern interior. Pyle refers to this race as P.e. montanus but
we need not concern ourselves with taxonomic minutia for purposes of our
discussion.  The other races in BC are P.e. alascensis (Pyle refers to P.e.
leucurus) in NE BC east of the Rockies, P.e. flammula in NW BC and P.e.
carlottae on the QCI and possibly the adjacent coast and Van Isl. With the
latest taxonomic revisions at the time of their writings,  Pyle and the BNA
account recognize the same  5 sub-species breeding in NA + one vagrant race.
I don't know what race Sibley is referring to when he illustrates the
Pacific form but it clearly does not match the descriptions for P.e.
montanus which is our interior breeding race.

 

So I perhaps misunderstood Alistair's original question which I think
relates to the middle 2 pictures which he sent of the same bird.

Again, I believe that the bright, overall reddish male in the photo series
belongs to a race other than P.e. montanus and does not breed locally in the
interior. It has too much red along the sides,  flanks and back. I would be
treading quaky ground to suggest which race it belongs to other than that.
I assume now that the birds were not part of one flock all together? Where
was it photographed and when?

 

The bird in the centre two pictures is of prime concern and does it fit the
race P.e. montanus?  Pyle claims that males after second year (adults)
should have a breast that is medium to dark red with gray mottling and
flanks primarily gray. Pyle makes no mention of females ever having reddish
tones anywhere on the head or breast nor does the BNA account. They do not
suggest that age may intensify colours toward the red end of the spectrum in
females.  In fact, Pyle states that some second year males from March -
September  can have pink to red feathers in the body plumage and are
reliably sexed with this trait.  So with respect to your photo reference
site Barry, I am not convinced that he has the gender correct in his photo
that he claims is a female. I don't know that he is wrong but I can't verify
that he is correct, especially with those reddish feathers showing in the
breast area.

 

So back to Alistair's middle bird(s). Pyle says that P.e. montanus in hatch
to second year has gray back feathers with no or indistinct gray centres.
Alistair's birds have gray centres I would say but would they be called
"indistinct?" I don't know. Pyle says that most hatch year to second year
birds cannot be sexed by plumage so knowing the age of the birds seems
pretty helpful and I don't know that we can see the right feathers to make a
stab at that. So while young males can show russet plumage, so can young as
well as adult females. Also, I note that the reddish feathers on the cheek
of the middle bird come farther forward than the yellowish feathers on the
female. Does this suggest that the head may become brighter pink overall and
that this could be a male?

 

So as with a few of Alistair's puzzles, I am left with only a partial
answer. I think that the bird could be a young russet male due to the
brighter colouring but recall the warning about sexing young birds above.
I don't know which race it might belong to. If this bird is a male, it is
not older than second year, otherwise it should have reached its maximal
extent of pink plumage and I don't think it has even for P.e.montanus. My
sense is that it is likely a second year bird and born last summer. It will
complete its second molt into adult plumage late this coming summer. So in
that sense, Ferne's comment that it has not completed its molt is correct .
The first molt is a partial one during the hatch year and the next as well
as all subsequent molts are complete. 

 

So if this does not adequately confuse, please ask another question. I am
sure we can muddy the issue even more or someone who has definitely seen
this plumage and who knows for sure what it represents will reply.

 

Rick Howie  

Kamloops

 

 

From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
[mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of M Lancaster
Sent: February-18-12 11:07 AM
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Subject: Re: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification

 

OK folks I am going to throw a curve ball, or in cricketing parlance 'an
away swinger' (my speciality).

 

Firstly, whenever one sees birds with red feathers, one has to consider that
they are only that colour because of the effect of diet - certainly in
cardueline finches. Consequently, we can get feathers coloured yellow to red
and all shades in between.

 

Secondly, second year males have a similar appearance to adult females
except (according to Birds of North America) somewhat deeper colouration and
may be 'reddish bronze'.

 

Thirdly, I see no reason why adult OLD females should not develop a more
intense colouration than either second year males or young females and
become red(dish?). I note that one of the 'redheads' has 'golden feathers at
the nape and on the breast and the other has golden feathers on the breast.
And actually, the adult male has some golden feathers on the rump.

 

Fourthly, second year birds should show evidence of juvenile feathers as the
first basic ( actually formative) is partial and neither remiges nor
rectrices are not moulted and ESPECIALLY there should be a limit in the
greater coverts ( only 3% moult all GCs). To me primaries and tail feathers
look perfect - almost; that is I see no signs of wear commensurate with a
bird that hatched last year.

 

Finally, the lores on the adult male are black and the 'under eyering' for
want of a better word is pink. In all the other birds the lores are grey as
is the eyering - which they may well be in second year males.

 

So, unless both the birds with only red heads, have moulted all their
coverts and almost certainly primaries and tail feathers they could be old
adult females - maybe!!! See for example
<http://www.alaskaphotographyblog.com/2012/02/female-pine-grosbeak/>
http://www.alaskaphotographyblog.com/2012/02/female-pine-grosbeak/ where
this female has definite red feathers on the breast and reddish on the head.

 

And now the inswinger, used only occasionally but always deadly; Pyle may
have something to say on the subject - Rick?

 

Unfortunately, neither volume of Pyle is available as a CD or an app.

 

Barry

 

M B Lancaster,
Currently - Tenerife, Islas Canarias

----- Original Message ----- 

From: Alistair Fraser <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>  

To: BCs Interesting Bird Pictures <mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>  

Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2012 1:16 AM

Subject: bcintbird-pics grosbeak identification

 

At a trip to the mailbox (no home delivery in the backwoods), I watched
birds enjoying some snowberries. (They must be hard up to be eating
snowberries.) There were Pine Grosbeaks, Redpolls, and another tiny bird
(whose identity is unknown).  

 

I quickly spotted a female grosbeak (first picture), but what was that
grosbeak lookalike (second and third pictures. It looked like a cross
between a male (its head) and a female (its breast).  

 

After a fair bit of digging, I learn that there is a subspecies, Pinicola
enucleator montanus, (Interior Western) that might fit this bird. (It has
proven problematic to learn the range of this subspecies.)  

 

So, I have included four pictures (the first three from today): 

1) the female, 

2) the oddball,

3) the oddball again,

4) a male Pine Grosbeak (of the plane ordinary Pacific subspecies) taken
earlier

 

Comments? Do what did I see here? An interior western?

 

Alistair

 

Alistair Fraser

Kootenay Lake

 



 



 



 



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