Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Identification Frustration

Boy oh boy (oh boy!) do I generally stink at identification.

(fat, complacent) Eastern Grey Squirrel!
Sure I can nail the names of the handful of regular visitors to these spaces (as could most third graders), but when it comes birds especially, I am as often as not totally stumped when pressed to determine anything other than the most general typology.

I wish it wasn't so.  I search out and spend hours on sites featuring recorded songs, rows of photos, silhouettes and habitat maps just to be able to say with confidence "that is a juvenile female Flibberty Gib.  They are migratory, generally traveling in mated pairs".

As it typically turns out, whatever I've taken a photograph of doesn't look exactly like anything on the sites.  I'll think I've narrowed the process down to a positive ID only to realize my bird in the photo doesn't have the "characteristic identifying" patch of color for this, or the "distinctive tail shape" for that.

Maybe "my" bird has been visiting the feeder all by its lonesome when the text about the species I think it might be clearly states "these birds travel in large numbers often overwhelming feeder sites".

Case in point?  This adorable little gal (because I decided she was a she, that's why!), who I've seen off and on the past few days.  I finally snagged a couple of shots from waaaay far away.
She's shy.  Even though I kept all the way across the yard once she noticed me she shot me an annoyed glance and promptly flew off (ahem, caff!) exhibiting the characteristic roller coaster flight of a goldfinch.  (Sorry.)
I spent way too much time trying, and yet I've still got no firm grasp of what particular sort of goldfinch she might be, because I couldn't find one single description or photo that precisely overlapped.

If you know, feel free to weigh in below in the comments section.  At the moment I'm leaning towards saying she is a Garbo Finch, (Finchus mysteriosus), noted for their tendency to shun paparazzi and travel sans entourage.  Anybody else want to weigh in?


Tina said...

Ha! I'm so glad someone else has the same troubles with those darn birds. So, my husband and I are pouring over our 3 bird books and we think the following: I believe it's an American Goldfinch, he thinks she's a Lesser Goldfinch. So much for a decision. We know it's not a Cardinal. So there. We were lots of help.

Cathy Thompson said...

I couldn't begin to comment. But the photos look lovely to me. And my are you committed! Look forward to more goldfinches (and other things) on your page!

Steph@RamblingWren said...

You are right on the money with calling this cute little bird "gal". I'm thinking she is either a female American Goldfinch or a female Lesser Goldfinch. They are difficult to tell apart except the American goldfinches tend to be a bit bigger in size. We have a thistle feeder, so I have observed many finches and still can't tell them apart;)

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Ah yes, the rule-out consolation prize. Most of the time that's as close as I can get - figuring out what my bird(s) are NOT. Not-a-cardinal, check! I'm happy to have your good company in my confused state.

TexasDeb said...

Cathy: "Committed" might begin to slide away from the "determined" and a lot further towards the "institutionalized" meaning of the word as the pollen piles. Thanks for coming back - I can't wait to see more about your French gardens as your weather warms.

TexasDeb said...

Steph: Welcome! This bird was teeny-tiny so maybe she is a Lesser. I consistently put out niger seed to pull finches in here. I love their songs. I've got lots of berry producing plants that guarantee a constant stream of larger regulars and then there are the wide bodies, the white tailed doves. We try to provide the full spectrum of bird spa options!

Debra said...

heh. I am not alone, then. I am the worst person for identifying birds. If it wasn't for the Cornell site I'd be worse than the 3rd grader. She is very pretty whatever her name is. Great shots!

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Fortunately for the bird, neither her beauty nor her happiness is in the least bit dependent upon my identification of her. I've done a little (read:obsessive) further investigation and believe her to be a Lesser Goldfinch.

Cat said...

I love their song too, Deb. Lately, I'm hearing a lot of the cedar waxwings. I've not been able to catch a shot of one as they are usually perched out of range but oh, I would be elated! Guess I'll just have to be happy with the memory :)
You got some great shots of your friend. They aren't easy either...very shy.

TexasDeb said...

Hi Cat! Finch made music is the best. The BeGood Tanyas have it right "The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs".

We were swamped recently with cedar waxwings after berries on some very tall privets out back. It was nearly dusk and too much cover between me and the birds to grab any photos but I watched them until it got too dark to see.