little gray bird ID help please
- Hello All,
I hope this is an appropriate forum in which to request help to
identify a little plain-colored bird which frequents my backyard. I
have been trying to use the western region NAS field guide, but I am
still not sure what kind of bird this is. Here are some facts about
Location: Burlingame, CA, 15 miles south of San Francisco.
Time of year: seems to be present during winter, but not summer.
Habitat: suburban neighborhood.
Size: a little smaller than an English sparrow, and more slender.
Coloration: grayish, some pattern, traces of yellow on body
underneath wings, distinctive yellow patch on "small of back", which
is visible during flight but not at rest.
Behavior: appears to be hunting insects, not seeds; frequently pokes
around blooms of bottlebrush bush, also hops around on grass.
Call: unfortunately, I don't remember.
Based on pictures in the NAS field guide, this bird looks similar to
a Blue-grey gnatcatcher, or a solitary vireo, or a Pacific slope
flycatcher, or some of the warblers.
Can any of you make a guess based on the facts I provide above? Or,
is this far too little to help ID a little plain-colored bird? Any
other online resources which you would recommend?
Andrei W. Konradi
First may I suggest, since you are interested in identifying birds, that you
find in your area a local Audubon Society or other organization that gives
courses on bird identification for beginners, or that gives free field trips
with accomplished leaders. You might also want to find a local message
board for birders in your area that could help you as your birding skills
increase. As you develop skills in identification, you will find it's not
just field marks in a book that birders use, but knowing what is in their
area, when it is in their area, how abundant the species is in their area,
and what habitats and behaviors the birds would show. With experience you
won't confuse a gnatcatcher with a flycatcher with a warbler. For example,
does the gnatcatchers in your field guide show any yellow? Does this bird
sit in an exposed area on the top of a twig or post waiting for an insect to
come by, and then return to the same post time and time again like a
flycatcher? In addition, as you gain proficiency in bird identification,
you will accumulate a useful vocabulary of bird anatomy....so that the small
of the back becomes a bird's rump. There are a number of bird guides and CDs
that would also help you in your quest. You might regularly bird a nearby
park and get a feeling for the changing of the seasons and the changing bird
life. Also may I suggest you start to learn the local common birds well,
before you tackle the uncommon species. You might start by looking at the
House Finch, Starling, and Yellow-rumped Warbler in your field guide (or
check it out on the Internet) and see if you can find any of those species
in your area.