Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Orange Variant Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwings normally have yellow-tipped tails, though sometimes orange-tipped variants are seen. Books often say the difference is diet-related, though it would seem that these birds, which generally move in flocks, are all eating the same things, so it's interesting that differences occur. This bird was in my yard in James City County yesterday.
Brian Taber

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Unusual Cormorants

Below are three photos of different-sized cormorants: the top one shows a small cormorant on the left, with yellow-orange skin above and below the beak next to a "typical" Double-crested; note the small bird's very small beak and legs and feet; the middle photo shows the 3 sizes in the same posture; the bottom photo shows the large bird on the right with the heavy head, thick beak, thick, brown neck and body structure like a Great Cormorant, but with yellow-orange skin above and below the beak, as with Double-crested and with no white on throat or cheek, as typical for Great, though an apparent second winter Great. While there can certainly be some individual size and plumage variation, these examples seem, from my experience, to be well outside the norm. I have not yet researched hybridization examples...Neoptropic X Double-crested?... though the small bird is a good candidate for a hybrid and I welcome any comments. I saw them today at the Jamestown ferry dock.
Brian Taber

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Cave Swallow Specimen

Cave Swallows from the southwestern U.S. have made an impressive invasion to the east coast since November. Very warm weather conditions surely helped sustain these wanderers.This one was found freshly dead in Portsmouth today by an Observatory bird research team. The delicate feather pattern on this handsome bird is hard to see well in flight, but is easily seen here.
Brian Taber