August 2001 Mystery Bird

This mystery bird was photographed at Parker Creek, Mono County in August. Additional photos are here. To view public comments or join the fray by adding your opinion, click here. When I originally saw the photos of this bird, I drew a complete blank on its identity. Mark asked me to feature it here which I was glad to do.

I like Andy Kratter's excellent suggestion that it's an immature or molting Phainopepla rather than an aberrant Gray Flycatcher. On my monitor, the bird shows striking dark blue patches on the scapulars, tail and face. The bill appears to be all dark and somewhat too thick and short for Gray Flycatcher in proportion to the head size. Andy Kratter's point about the shape of the nostrils, not visible here, but easily seen on the right-hand image on Mark Eaton's site is a good one and quite compelling in my opinion. I can see nothing wrong with Phainopepla.

Many thanks to all who braved an opinion and offered useful discussion.

Photo © Mark W. Eaton
All rights reserved.

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