Monday, February 09, 2009

Size DOES Make a Difference

Remember contributor Karen Anne Kolling's mystery bird of a day or two ago, she writes--

I think this is the same, or same kind of bird, as yesterday. I'm hoping these do better at showing his or her size:

Taking into account her wing bars, white wing patch, plus the bowl, I'd identify this bird as a Mockingbird no question but is this bird the same as the previous one? Or at least the same species?

And here is Karen's bird from the other day. She thought it might be a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A gnatcatcher, though quite similar in coloration and markings to a Mockingbird, is only 4 1/2 inches long. While a Mockingbird is 9 to 11 inches long. That's a big difference if you have something to compare for size.

I'm not familiar with this particular bush at all, so this bird could be 11 inches long or 4 inches. And if a bird is in the middle distance unless a bird, say a Robin, that can't be missed due to shape and color has perched nearby previously for present mental comparison, good size judgment can be compromised or be downright nonexistent.

I don't see much wing barring or the white wing patch that is a field mark for a Mockingbird here either. Though the beak and set of the tail are right.

Wait. Is that a tinge of white on the side of her tail?

Are the marks covered with belly fluff or are they just not there? Maybe they are obscured. Yes, very possibly.

An idea of size c0uld clinch the ID.

Here we go! Thank you Mourning Dove, now we've got something animate to compare with the exiting Mocker and having seen that, Karen makes her decision, that this is the same bird as the other or at least the same species. This one and the previous sighting are Mockingbird size not Chickadee length.

Size does make a difference.

Karen: And if it's morning, it must be time to hang out on the deck
And who? It's the Mourning Dove Brigade. I do love the companionability of this species. They seem to love to just snuggle down over their feet, sit in a group, and watch the world go by. No hassles over perches, no attempts to peck out anyone's eyes, just keeping our feet warm, digesting, and with enough eyes to keep watch for predators that dozing off periodically is absolutely acceptable.

They make life look good.

Donegal Browne

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