We have a perching bird that appears to be brown above, whitish below with some spots. The head is blocked by a branch, as is most of the tail. There’s still plenty to see.
Among the brown birds, we have sparrows, wrens, thrushes, Brown Creeper, a flycatcher or two, Horned Lark, some swallows, Brown Thrasher, and Ovenbird. Clearly it’s not a lark, creeper, swallow or flycatcher. No wren has spotting like this bird, so we’re down to sparrows, thrushes, and Brown Thrasher.
The bird looks a bit big and long for most sparrows. Fox Sparrow is a possibility, but that should be redder and is more streaked than spotted. Song Sparrows would show a more patterned face.
Brown Thrasher is bigger and redder. The tail is huge, which would be noticeable, even mostly hidden here. So we’re down to thrushes. Wood Thrush would be more heavily spotted. Although the Catharus species are very difficult, we have a shortcut here. This is a winter photo, and Hermit Thrush is the only thrush that wouldn’t be extraordinary in midwinter.
Here’s another view, which shows the face much better.
I actually did have a guess this week. It wasn’t Hermit Thrush, but it’s a start. One of these weeks (although I’m skipping another week now as I was away over the weekend and didn’t get anything together).
As I said, this one wasn’t really fair. Here’s a more typical example:
(Found with creativecommons search)
It’s one of the invasive honeysuckles (Lonicera sp). It had grown completely out of control in the yard and ended up taking over the entire back yard before we finally had it cut down. The birds did like it, but there’s plenty of native plants they like as well.
This one’s a fairly small bird, perched on a peanut feeder. That should eliminate a lot of things, although I have seen just about every yard bird of that size on that feeder at one time or another.
The underside is a bright reddish brown, the tail is long, thin, and spotted, and the throat appears to be paler. There’s not much that matches that. Like last week, this is a wren. This time, however, it’s a Carolina Wren.
Carolina Wrens are easily found all over Waltham. Although I haven’t confirmed breeding yet, there’s absolutely no doubt that they are. Although in previous years, they would drop down in harsh winters, I’ve noticed no such reduction lately (in fact, there’s been two in the yard for the first time recently).
Again, I haven’t publicized at all and there were no responses. Now that I’m on wordpress, comments should be possible so it might pick up a bit.
Let’s start with the fact that it’s a small, brown bird (not everything in these quizzes will be birds). The size and color limits us to sparrows, wrens, creepers, and that’s about it. Sparrows all have thicker bills and creepers are almost always found on tree trunks and not on little twigs (besides being thinner, having a more patterned wing, and shorter legs).
So, among the wrens, there’s 4 known from Waltham: Carolina, House, Winter, and Marsh.
Carolina’s a very differently colored bird with a big eyestripe. Marsh Wrens are paler
below and also have a prominent eyestripe. House and Winter Wrens are similar, but
Winter has a much shorter tail. It’s also much more likely to be found in Waltham in
January (according to Birds of Massachusetts, Winter Wrens are regular overwinterers
and House Wrens only very occasionally in the southeast and the Cape).
So, a Winter Wren. In Waltham, I’ve only had them at Met State, although I’ve had them
pretty regularly there. I’ve also heard about records around Prospect Hill and at least one
Since I haven’t made any announcements of this quiz, I got no responses.