Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: UFD in a Fruit Tree


Two years ago, around this time, this gentlebird appeared in one of the local ornamental fruit trees.

UFD I

UFD I

This year, it would have been surrounded by flowers – the trees are all about blooming right now. Global warming must be a thing. They seem to bloom earlier each year.

I find this bird rather attractive. Some nice blue on the chest, there. And I feel I should know what it is, but I don’t recognize the beak. I am teh suck with birds. I’m doing pretty well with juncos, chickadees, and European song sparrows. I can spot a house finch. All of these are thanks to you, by the way. But this one? No idea.

UFD II

UFD II

I didn’t pay much attention back then, before we started this UFD thing. It was an artistic opportunity is all. I’ve not been much of a birder in the past. Now I tend to pay attention to them, stop to talk to them (mostly saying things like, “Hold still, you bastard! Don’t go into the – fuck. You went into the leaves. Fucker). I pay attention to their songs, and I’ve got a few sorted out. I can tell when juncos and sparrows are around, for instance, and I’ve about got chickadees figured out. I can tell you if red-winged blackbirds are around in a trice. Maybe whatever this is will be the same someday – a bird I hear because you gave me a name, and so I watch for it, and listen to what it’s saying (probably things like, “Ha! That Dana Hunter, man – watch while I make her think she’s got me nicely framed and them bam! Into the leaves. Ha ha ha ha ha!”).

Right. An artistic silhouette, and then I’ll leave you to it.

UFD III

UFD III

Comments

  1. w00dview says

    Oh this is an easy one! Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Originally from Europe, they were introduced to North America in 1890. On sunny days, their ultraviolet throat feathers shimmer with orange, green and purple colours so they can be a very attractive species. They are well known to travel in large flocks as you can see in this video.

    http://vimeo.com/31158841

  2. rq says

    Well, my first instinct was to say Turdus merula, but I’m not sure if they’ve been introduced in North America. The bird here is definitely a spring bird, with a very distinctive call, usually used as a sign that winter is waning. Very pretty and versatile. Beak shape and colouring and size seem to correspond. Almost.
    So I had doubts, since it doesn’t seem to be in your area, and it has that little beard, and a slightly pointier beak than I would expect an ordinary blackbird to have, but with present-day globalization, who really knows?

    And then I remembered that there’s another bird that has the same Latvian name but a different English one (completely different birds, as it were), and so I put forth Sturnus vulgaris, whose range does, in fact, extend into the Americas. It has spots (check), a bluish-green tinge near the throat (check), a narrower beak (check) and it loves spring (check). Very pretty.

  3. azportsider says

    I’m late to this party, and rq’s already aced me out. Best I can do here is agree: Sturnus vulgaris, the European Starling.

  4. evilDoug says

    I’d go with starling – and it isn’t a gentlebird. They can be quite obnoxious and aggressive against other birds. They are, however, quite pretty and can be quite amusing to watch. They can aggregate in huge flocks (check google images for starling flock. I believe they are one of the birds US gov’t death squads will poison. Fuck US gov’t death squads!

    One identifying feature not clearly visible in the photos is the tail – it is quite stubby relative to that of other birds of similar size and shape.

    Their own song doesn’t amount to much, but they are great mimics. If you hear a small frog chirping from high in a tree or on a roof, there’s a good chance it is a starling. I had some around a few years ago that must have wintered in the south eastern US – they imitated birds that don’t come within a thousand miles of here.

  5. fastlane says

    I went birding this past weekend at Smith Island (spectacular weather we had here, eh?) and ran into my nemesis…the ubiquitous sparrow. I did eventually determine that it was a song sparrow, and not a fox sparrow. I have a Galaxy Tab 7 inch tablet with the Audobon guide on it, and being able to play the calls seems to often be the real clincher for nondescript birds like that.

    And I’m going to have to agree with the starling. Lots of those around here (and pretty much all over the US).

  6. Trebuchet says

    I’m afraid I was stumped until I read the comments! But yes, I’d have to agree it’s probably a darling starling. Dana, you seem to have quite a knack for picking invasive species!

  7. moarscienceplz says

    And I feel I should know what it is, but I don’t recognize the beak.

    Reminds me of an old joke:
    One horse walks up to another horse, “Hi there, remember me?”
    Second horse, “Well, I don’t recognize your mane, but your pace is familiar.”