Friday, May 31, 2013

American Pipit Confusion

 While at Cape Spear this week I photographed this quite gray pipit.  The second image better shows the amount of buff showing on the supercilium and below the eye.
 This bird also seems to have a slightly shorter beak, as well as a lighter color on the breast and belly. At the time, I thought it looked different.
After seeing this pipit on the southern shore yesterday, my confusion grew. This pipit looks more like the typical American Pipit, much darker breast and belly, darker back, longer beak and smaller supercilium. What accounts for the difference? Is one a male? The other a female? According to the guide, there is no difference between the two. Is one in winter plumage and the other in breeding, even though the photos were taken one day apart?

I began to wonder about the different kinds of pipits. My browsing suggested that the American Pipit is known by many names: The Buff-bellied Pipit, Water Pipit and Rock Pipit. Since these are not separated in my guide, I looked them all up with Google. The outcome? More confusion. So many birds are mislabeled on the Net that it was impossible for me to draw any suitable conclusion. The question still remains: What accounts for the difference between these two birds?

Note: Saw a great Red-winged Blackbird yesterday, but no pictures forthcoming. It flew directly in front of me flashing its brilliant color. There were virtually no shoulders on the road in the area. I had to pull up quite a distance to even get halfway off the road. By that time, there was no finding the bird again.

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