What kind of bird is this? Pictures included!

On the juniper tree outside our balcony today we saw this unusual bird:


Here’s one more view:


Unfortunately the lighting was less than optimal since I was partially facing the sun and used the zoom on my digital camera. The pictures linked above were made using the MS Snipping Tool after further blowing up the originals in Windows Photo Gallery. However, while the resolution isn’t outstanding, I think they are good enough that a knowledgeable birder or ornithologist could identify it. I’m thinking some kind of finch, and we’ve seen finches that have similar “racing stripes” on the head, but those have been red and black. This is the first yellow and black one we’ve seen.

This is in Los Angeles, if it matters. What is it?

(Paging Colibri!)

Why, it’s a yellow-headed… oh, hell. Let’s let Colibri give you the real answer. :slight_smile:

Townsends warbler, possibly blackheaded grosbeak.

I’d say it’s a Townsend’s Warbler.

I think it’s a big-breasted bed thrasher.

Thanks for the responses. Given the time of year I imagine the bird is on its way further south, or may decide to spend the winter here. Without taking more than a casual interest in birds I’ve noticed many small birds seem to have similar racing stripes.

I’ve always found the English names of birds rather amusing; so many of them seem to be “somebody’s” finch, warbler, grackle, or what have you.

BTW this would be a male bird, wouldn’t it? Are there any bird species in which the females have brighter plumage?

Depends what you mean by “brighter.” The eclectus parrot is a very dimorphic species, the male is mostly green, and the female is cobalt blue and red. One possible explanation for this is that the female, who spends 9 months of the year in a nest cavity, needs to be brightly-coloured so the male can find her and bring her and her chicks food.

Very lovely birds, lots of fun to work with. We have three at the zoo where I work.

Other “reverse” dimorphism includes the wading birds, the phalaropes. These birds practice polyandry, and the female pursues and fights over males. The males also do the chick-rearing. The females are larger and more brightly coloured than the males, and consequently, were mislabled as males by many early ornithologists.

How’d I do, Colibri? :slight_smile:

Spectre, your location is a gag location (which is ok of course), but, depending on where you live, this might be a rarity for this time of the year. Go to this site (eBird) and check out the recent sightings-there’s been tons along the west coast over the last month or so.

Says in the OP that he is in Los Angeles.

I live in South Los Angeles, my son was trying to describe a bird he saw the other day that very well could have been this same bird. I have never seen one here but I have seen them in Pasadena and the San Garbriel Valley which is about 20 miles away.

I had one. She was quite wild when I got her, but with patience she had become quite tame and sweet. Unfortunately, I ended up in the hospital for a very extended stay and while I was in there, the people caring for my house gave her away. (They asked me if they could, but the truth was, there were no good choices. I wasn’t coming home for months and someone had to care for her.) She was also quite dazzling beautiful.

I just popped onto Cornell’s ornithology website and the first page had an ad for their birdwatching calendar, with a picture of a Townsend’s Warbler. Definitely the same bird.

Yes on the male Townsends Warbler. They are residents here in northern CA and drink from my fish pond all the time. Very striking and beautiful birds.

I agree it’s a male Townsend’s Warbler. One of the more distinctive of the wood-warblers.

It’s named after the naturalist John Kirk Townsend, who collected the first specimen in the Rockies in the 1830s.

Very well.:wink:

I saw a Red headed blue bird the other day in my backyard. No pictures.

It actually looked like a cardinal and bluejay had mated. It was bigger than a cardinal and smaller than a blue jay. I have been here 20 years and I never seen one of those birds before.

Southeastern Missouri.

Why do people always assume it all about the male? :mad: Maybe it is for the other females; maybe being brightly colored just makes her feel good about herself!

No North American bird fits that description. You either saw an escaped cage bird, a very lost migrant, or Woody Woodpecker.:wink:

I did not see Mr. Pitt holding a wire at the end of the yard so it could not have been Woody Woodpecker.

Good call on a escaped caged bird.

Related to the Rosy Bottomed Skinnydipper

The female northern harrier, while not especially colorful, is more colorful than the male. They are a pretty common bird.
And to continue the theme from the post directly above I’ve found that I can spend hours watching the firm-breasted American coed.