Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Unusual tanager today/post note: others don't think so

Post note: I received messages from two experienced birders who said they believed this bird had either worn off one wing bar or was young and had not acquired it yet.
I saw this apparent female Western Tanager this morning on the Canon City Riverwalk, but something didn't seem right so I took these pics. The first thing that struck me was that this bird had only 1 wing bar instead of the two that are considered field marks for separating female Westerns from other female tanagers. The pics seem to show a yellowish wing bar and it is in the location of the greater coverts. The yellowish wing bar that would be expected to be formed by the tips of the median coverts is not present (photos show some spots of daylight that were filtering through the branches).
The other thing that really struck me as different was the larger size of this bird's bill. In the photos it also shows that most of the lower mandible is quite dark (should be more greenish yellow per Birds of North America-BNA online as shown in this bird-in-hand pic) though the cutting edge does appear to be greenish-yellow as is expected on Western females (BNA).
Unfortunately these pics of the bird do not provide views of other parts that might show other field marks. As there have been records of hybrid tanagers, it causes me to wonder if this bird might be a hybrid??? SeEtta