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RFI: Blackbird I.D.

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  • rcpower1955
    Hi all: At the Richmond Sewer Ponds off Richmond Parkway on April 1st I observed a blackbird for about 15 minutes. It looked like a cross between a varied
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2003
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      Hi all:

      At the Richmond Sewer Ponds off Richmond
      Parkway on April 1st I observed a blackbird for about 15 minutes. It
      looked like a cross between a varied thrush and a brewer's
      blackbird.... I have no experience with rusty blackbird, and assumed
      that's what I was observing until I returned to my car and looked at my
      field guides. The head and upper chest and tail are right, the rest is
      funky.

      Here's the full description.

      Purplish Black head
      I originally wrote "thickish dull black beak", then i got a better
      look and
      wrote gray black / gray beak. (it could have been a grackle-sized
      beak, but at the time it didn't strike me as out of the ordinary.)
      Yellow iris with black pupil
      Iridescent blue-black chest (so the chest is subtly different from
      the head)
      Two orange wing bars, upper thick and lower thin
      The upper leading edge of the wing had an orange tinge
      Otherwise the wing was black, but i didn't note the iridescence on the
      wing or the tail as I was paying more attention to the other field
      marks.
      Orange flanks and chest
      orange rump patch
      Orange undertail coverts
      white belly
      White or slightly mottled white feathering on the tibia

      Call was a high pitched clear note: Tee or See
      and it seemed to make a double clicking or chupping noise like you'd
      use if you wanted your horse to move it along. Tch-Tch Tch-Tch

      The blackbird? moved between the parking lot and the berm on the
      other side of the adjacent nw corner fence. It foraged like a brewer's.
      just walking around the ground of the parking area.

      The blackbird? also seemed to have a constant companion in the form of
      a female brewer's.

      The orange resembles the shade of orange seen in a rusty blackbird, but
      there was just obviously a lot more of it, in big patches and the wing
      bars and white undercoating were unusual as well.

      Rusty Scalf suggested some albinistic or leucistic possibilities. Or
      maybe it's just a weird molt going on.
      I spent yesterday doing a web search of blackbird and common grackle
      pictures to see if there were any variant molt pictures around, but had
      no luck.

      I'm trying to snag a camera for the weekend and go back, but in the
      meantime, if anyone has any insight or reference material for this i.d.
      I'd appreciate any feedback.


      Bob Power
      Alameda County
      Oakland, CA
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