unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
22 May 2017, 6:36 PM,
#1
unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
Bird perched in top of evergreen tree.  Large grosbeak, first impression Evening but then close-up and not. 4 or 5 patches of alternate yellow and orange on breast and belly, patches distinct.  Small patch of yellow near top of beak (Sibley's fore-supercilium), and black on rest of head.  Folded wing showed 2 white wing bars with some irregular edges, but still gave the distinction of 2 wing bars.  Those are the areas I got committed to memory.  Sibley and Kauffmann say Evening Grosbeak doesn't have a song, but when it opened its beak I heard musical notes similar to Black-headed Grosbeak.  Black-headed Grosbeaks were present in the willows, not tree top.  Sooo, a hybrid Evening - Black-headed Grosbeak?
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22 May 2017, 9:28 PM,
#2
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
(22 May 2017, 6:36 PM)sleeper Wrote: Bird perched in top of evergreen tree.  Large grosbeak, first impression Evening but then close-up and not. 4 or 5 patches of alternate yellow and orange on breast and belly, patches distinct.  Small patch of yellow near top of beak (Sibley's fore-supercilium), and black on rest of head.  Folded wing showed 2 white wing bars with some irregular edges, but still gave the distinction of 2 wing bars.  Those are the areas I got committed to memory.  Sibley and Kauffmann say Evening Grosbeak doesn't have a song, but when it opened its beak I heard musical notes similar to Black-headed Grosbeak.  Black-headed Grosbeaks were present in the willows, not tree top.  Sooo, a hybrid Evening - Black-headed Grosbeak?

Roger,

There has been a leucistic Black-headed Grosbeak at Wilson Meadow the last couple of years.  Your bird sounds like it may be the same one.  It is hard to say for sure because I last saw it in 2015.  I've got pictures of it that I'll try and dig up.  I believe that Gary Botello may have taken pictures of it as well.
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23 May 2017, 3:53 PM,
#3
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
(22 May 2017, 9:28 PM)jocrouse Wrote:
(22 May 2017, 6:36 PM)sleeper Wrote: Bird perched in top of evergreen tree.  Large grosbeak, first impression Evening but then close-up and not. 4 or 5 patches of alternate yellow and orange on breast and belly, patches distinct.  Small patch of yellow near top of beak (Sibley's fore-supercilium), and black on rest of head.  Folded wing showed 2 white wing bars with some irregular edges, but still gave the distinction of 2 wing bars.  Those are the areas I got committed to memory.  Sibley and Kauffmann say Evening Grosbeak doesn't have a song, but when it opened its beak I heard musical notes similar to Black-headed Grosbeak.  Black-headed Grosbeaks were present in the willows, not tree top.  Sooo, a hybrid Evening - Black-headed Grosbeak?

Roger,

There has been a leucistic Black-headed Grosbeak at Wilson Meadow the last couple of years.  Your bird sounds like it may be the same one.  It is hard to say for sure because I last saw it in 2015.  I've got pictures of it that I'll try and dig up.  I believe that Gary Botello may have taken pictures of it as well.

Roger,

I agree, your bird does sound like the leucistic Black-headed Grosbeak that has been at Wilson Meadow the last couple of years.

I was there on the past 2 weekends and have not yet seen it this year.

See my post: Wilson Meadow: Hart Prairie 5/30/15. 

My pics of the leucistic bird are there.

Gary
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23 May 2017, 4:35 PM,
#4
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
Looks about the same, the orange and yellow patches on underside may have been somewhat different.  Leucosistic wouldn't explain the patch of yellow at the top base of the beak (shows on your take-off photo), so there might be something else involved in the color pattern.
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24 May 2017, 10:18 AM,
#5
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
I can explain better.  If you look down on an Evening Grosbeak a yellow horse shoe extends across the top to the beak and along the supercilia.  On the X Grosbeak the yellow is across the top of the beak (look close on the 2015 take-off picture.  A decade ago a guy from Boulder CO gave a presentation on leucistic birds.  It involves a lot of variety in a lot of birds, but always involves a white feather replacing a colored feather.  Here, yellow above the beak is a Evening Grosbeak trait and black supercilia is Black-headed Grosbeak trait.  The blotches of orange and yellow on the breast could represent genetic traits from the 2 Grosbeaks, but definitely not leucistic traits.  The Evening Grosbeak is 1/3 heavier than Black-headed Grosbeak (Sibley) and this bird definitely seemed bigger than the Black-headed Grosbeaks I saw in the brush; but not a definitive comparison because not together.  When I first saw X Grosbeak the upper breast, neck and head were hidden, and the rest of the body led me to think Evening Grosbeak.  It moved to another tree where I could see the front of the bird.  The extra white on dorsal body in the 2015 photos could be from Evening Grosbeak genes.  So, I still go with hybrid Evening/Black-headed Grosbeak.
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24 May 2017, 11:29 AM,
#6
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
The "Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World" is searchable on Google Books. I don't see any reference to Evening Grosbeaks hybridizing with anything, so if it is the combination you suggest, it's not common!

Jason
Flagstaff, AZ
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24 May 2017, 6:15 PM,
#7
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
Would a Yellow x Black-headed Grosbeak explain the size and color? I see that there was one at the Sonoran Desert Museum. By my calculations, that would be 50% more likely than finding a Yellow Grosbeak here.  Wink
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25 May 2017, 11:33 AM,
#8
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
(24 May 2017, 6:15 PM)tshedwall Wrote: Would a Yellow x Black-headed Grosbeak explain the size and color? I see that there was one at the Sonoran Desert Museum. By my calculations, that would be 50% more likely than finding a Yellow Grosbeak here.  Wink

I have included my pictures from 5/30/15 here to make it easier to see in relation to this discussion.

Gary


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25 May 2017, 12:11 PM,
#9
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
(25 May 2017, 11:33 AM)gbotello Wrote:
(24 May 2017, 6:15 PM)tshedwall Wrote: Would a Yellow x Black-headed Grosbeak explain the size and color? I see that there was one at the Sonoran Desert Museum. By my calculations, that would be 50% more likely than finding a Yellow Grosbeak here.  Wink

Now this is really interesting...I knew I had more photos of this bird, so I went back through my old pics.

I found some even better pics of it from 5/27/13. I believe this might have been the first time that I saw it.

From these pics (I included some close ups of the bill), the bill is definitely not yellow colored. Could the yellow be some kind of light reflection?

I can't be sure that it is the same bird, but I doubt that there are a whole race of these birds hanging around the Meadow...unless the current bird is a descendant of this bird?

Thoughts?

Gary


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25 May 2017, 2:53 PM,
#10
RE: unusual grosbeak, Wilson Meadow
Wow; really weird.  Forget what I said before.  The first 3 photos in the above response show yellow feathers poking out all over his head.  Next photos the head is all black so I assume different dates.  The close-ups of the lower back show patch of yellow downy-like feathers, a patch of bulging gray skin (probably natural color), and another patch of yellow downy-like feathers.  So on that photo date I think this guy had a disease or infection which might subsequently alter feather color.  Have you considered sending all the photos to Cornell for thoughts?  Make sure the dates go with the photos.

In my 2017 view, a little patch of yellow feathers was next to the top edge of the beak.  The alternating patches of yellow and orange on the breast and belly had distinct borders.
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