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Here we will have some pictures of birds in unusual plumages
generally not shown in the books, but which you might encounter.
The best lesson is that usually odd looking birds are
common birds that have pigment abberations. If you see
something not in your books, it is more likely an aberrant
bird, rather than you having discovered an unknown species.
Albinism or partial albinism, or too much or too little of any
color is possible. One should use size, shape, structure,
behavior and vocals to identify these abberant individuals.
Additionaly, odd plumages can be the result of hybridization,
however great care should be made in claiming such. Some
like Northern Flicker however produce lots of hybrids out there.
The key is to get pictures so an expert can identify it.
We'll start with an odd Junco. A rufous-backed,
gray-headed, pink-sided, Dark-eyed Junco, which I
suspect is a hybrid Gray-headed x Pink-sided Junco.
This bird seems a hybrid to my eye. It struck me
as a Gray-headed Junco due to red-rufous back and gray
head and breast, but it has pinkish sides, not gray.
A good Gray-headed Junco has gray sides, but otherwise
it's a close match with correct bright red-rufous back color.
It is also suggestive of a Pink-sided Junco due to those
pink sides, but, the back is red-rufous, unlike Pink-sided.
In my view the key incriminating or definitive character
showing evidence of it not being a pure Pink-sided is the
gray breast which extends too far posteriorly on the underparts
for pure Pink-sided, which has a distinct clearcut standard issue
'Junco' hood, lacking on this individual. So a
hybrid seems the likely correct determination in this case.
It was present in our Utopia area yard winter junco flock
off and on (6 days over 6 weeks) on Feb. 13, and between
March 10 and 31, 2012.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Also one must consider escaped game or pet birds too,
especially gamebirds and waterfowl, but not just them.
Below are a couple of examples of pigment aberrations in
the way of "greenie," a yellow morph Pine Siskin, and
"whitey" (a partial albino Chippy) that were here near Utopia
during winter '06. Then there is a hybrid quail
and a couple different Painted Bunting plumages, a warbler
sketch and a white-winged Scrub-Jay. We'll add weirdos
as we find them.
Above is a "yellow" morph as they are called, Pine Siskin
near Utopia, TX, Jan. 22 to late April '06. I'd say it
is more oddly green than yellow. However, the amazingly
green back faded as the fresh plumage wore.
Some of the photos taken through two old window panes .....
The bird had unmarked yellow underwings (linings brighter), and an
unmarked yellow patch on lower back like Eurasian Siskin !&$!.
Amount of yellow above on wing and tail in flight was stunning.
Bird was present with up to over 80 other "normal" Pine Siskins.
Here you can see the underside of tail, a butter yellow,
as were undersides of remiges (flight feathers on wing).
Here is a partially albinistic Chipping Sparrow ...
when it flew it had lots of white in tail and wings,
like a Snow Bunting, but in all the wrong places.
Here is a real doozy, an oddity among oddities
A possible/apparent hybrid between
Scaled (aka Blue) Quail and Northern Bobwhite,
near Sabinal, Texas, May '05. A few very very
crack gamebird and quail folk have agreed with this
diagnosis. And I've seen another since!
This is a 2nd year (about a year old) male Painted Bunting.
Not really an oddity, but not shown in the typical field guides.
There seem to be several avenues 1st year male Painted Bunting
to achieve adult plumage, some are yellower below with some blue
on the head in the first summer, more though are like this one,
lime and salmon. Whooda thunk they went together so well.
This was by all accounts an adult male Painted Bunting,
but which lacked all red pigment, leaving those parts yellow.
Since it was not photographed, all you get is this mis-shapen
thumbnail. Xanthistic might be the term for this.
Interestingly a short time later one was seen I think
near Junction (posted to Texbirds). Perhaps was it
Birds of So.Carolina about 1910 by John Dick that illustrated
this type of pigment aberration in Painted Bunting? You
should get an extra point for having seen one. :)
This is a texana Scrub-Jay with partial albinism, or leucisism.
One parent had a "shadow" of the pattern apparent in flight.
If you see a white-winged Scrub-Jay around Utopia please
let me know, it is from Seco Ridge. :)
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This is a hybrid Hermit x Townsend's Warbler that Kathy found
over at Garner St. Pk. Nov. 1, 2009, showing characters of both
parent species. One of the furthest eastward records and
probably the first for the Edwards Plateau.
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