Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thrush Confusion

 Being surrounded by birds flitting everywhere is an experience every birder dreams of.
 Sometimes the ID is easy, and sometimes it is not.
 It was easy to identify these two feisty, speckled immature Hermit Thrush. It was a joy to watch them test these wings.
 This is the first time I have seen such young Hermits.
 How do I know these are Hermit and not Gray-cheeked Thrush? Well, I made the call based on the full eye-ring and reddish plumage. This was the easy part.
 Now, to the adults. This is much more difficult. I "think" this is a mature Hermit Thrush. I concluded this based on the eye-ring the rusty flank and slightly reddish hue. All of which are debatable. The eye-ring actually doesn't seem to be complete. However, the rufous flank is apparent. I am sitting on the fence regarding the color of the lower mandible. The Gray-cheeked Thrush supposedly has more color on the lower mandible, and this bird certainly has that.
 This, too, I think is a mature Hermit Thrush based on the eye ring and and pale lower mandible. The flank color is not visible and the bird does seem more gray than red. (The Gray-cheeked Thrush has an olive-colored flank.)

Out of all of the thrush I saw, I think this is the only Gray-cheeked Thrush. Looking closely, there is no eye-ring showing on this bird. The lower mandible is very bright, the back and tail is grayish. Unfortunately, the flank is not visible. Also, this bird was much more secretive than the Hermits in the area. Now, I may be totally wrong and will not feel the least bit bad about it if someone would like to correct any conclusions. One thing is a given: It is very difficult to tell the difference when the birds are moving all about.

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