Sunday, September 8, 2013

THRUSH [Unidentified]: 09/07/2013

I went birding Saturday, September 7, 2013, and was stumped by several sightings. I have pretty much narrowed them all down to an educated guess, except one. The previous pic and the one-in-the-same this one:

Over a span of about thirty minutes, I kept noticing that a male American Robin would fly rapidly, directly, deliberately toward a tree and up about forty feet into its foliage, resulting in the flushing out of another bird and a subsequent pursuit. The bird being pursued would take refuge in another tree or bush lower down, where the Male American Robin would further engage it, resulting in the quarrelsome sounds of wings coming in careless contact with vegetation and vocalizations of conflict. There was no physical contact between the birds insomuch as the smaller bird was in a state of heightened awareness as well as proving quicker and more agile than a male American Robin.

Over and over, this scenario played out from tree to tree.  There would be sounds of discord lasting for several seconds, it would subside, cease to a quiet and still, and then reoccur moments later at a different tree located within a small area of a larger patch of woods. It did not seem like a continuous chase, but it could have been. I do not know whether the chaser was the same male American Robin, but it could have been. There was an inordinate amount American Robins in the woods Saturday, so it was impossible to tell. I also do not know whether the bird I kept seeing chased was always the same bird, but it seemed to be.

 At one point, from a distance—and when the bird being chased flew through a narrow strip of unobstructed sunlight—it appeared gray, like a Northern Mockingbird; however, I mentally noted that I saw not the broad white wing bars that should have been quite visible. At a point when the birds were closer, I realized that the bird being chased was somewhat smaller than the American Robin. When I finally saw the bird being chased through the eye of my camera, I thought I was looking at a juvenile, leucistic American Robin.
After uploading the day’s memory card to my computer and increasing the exposure from the darkness of the woods, I discovered photographs that maybe should have ended all of my confusion and speculation.
In my opinion, all three of the above photographs—which were taken shortly before I noticed the chasing, and in a different part of the woods—are definitely those of a Veery Thrush. Perhaps all of the photographs I have presented are those of a Veery Thrush, but as of this morning, this Sunday morning, I was not so sure. Concerning the first four photographs exhibited, the feather coloring seemed too bold and too dark to be that of a Veery Thrush, and the bird’s tail feathers seemed longer than I would expect for them to be those of a Veery Thrush.
After the briefest of research this morning, I initially narrowed the species down, but only down to seven: the Ovenbird, the Veery Thrush, the Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bicknell’s Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, the Hermit Thrush, and the Wood Thrush.
Some of my research resources:

Thrushes by Greg Lavaty

Veery Thrush
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Bicknell’s Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Now, after looking at tons of pictures, perusing a lot, sometimes reading very carefully, and listening to scores of bird vocalizations (none of which I recall hearing yesterday), I am ruling out the Ovenbird—which is the only bird I considered that is not a thrush. I am also ruling out Bicknell’s Thrush insomuch as its range does not put it on my side of the Appalachian Mountains. Further, due to a lack of color brilliance with regard to the birds I saw or photographed, I cannot believe that a Wood Thrush was involved. That reduces the possibilities down to four; and for now, although I would like to believe that those first four photographs are those of a Gray-cheeked Thrush, I’m declaring those sightings [Unidentified] Thrush.