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Bird ID Challenge.

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 3:36 pm
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:25 pm Unread post
And the latest challenge looks like a doozy! :tongue:
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Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:34 pm Unread post
Dabchick wrote
And I suppose the male sun bird visited the nest while you were there watching.... which can now be used as proof of the ID.


You are missing the point here... as well as the spirit in which my previous post (of the prinia) was made. Apart from the fact that I KNOW the ID of the bird from other factors to which only I am privvy, I will not ever post a challenge pix that cannot be ID'd from that pix alone. The thing is that if you disagree with an ID and flat-out refuse to learn from the pointers given to you in the answer, you are denying yourself a learning. Again I will just use the prinia example...

Image
Tawny-flanked prinia

Image
Black-chested prinia

Will you agree that all of a sudden you can start seeing what I refer to with my pointers:- the bold eye brow and lack of russet on the wing distinguishes it from tawny-flanked It also becomes patently obvious that there are MORE distinguishing features that you can spot yourself and note down in the margins of your fieldguide, or a note book you keep for such purposes, for future reference.

Just walk that extra mile with me... You will quickly find that luck has nothing to do with IDing birds correctly. It requires looking and learning, digging into every bit of info you can find until that Eureka-moment arrives! That is where the fun bit comes in! For it is one of the more pleasing aspects of birding: solving an ID riddle.


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Virtual Ranger
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:41 pm Unread post
Okay I'll admit defeat on the prinia. With those two pics right next to each other I can see that the tawny has more russet on the wing... seeing the back view of the black-chested on its own, the wings looked russet enough to me, but obviously I was wrong...

:gflower:


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Virtual Ranger
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:42 pm Unread post
PNF wrote
Hmmmm! Interesting, VERY Interesting - wonder if we are supposed to ID the fingers as well? :twisted:


:yaya: :yaya: I know the answer to that one! Johan. Not only is he a very good photographer, atlasser and fantastic quiz master, he is also a bird ringer. :clap: :clap:


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Virtual Ranger
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:51 pm Unread post
:funny: :lol: :lol:
(Now back to serious business... :( )


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:56 pm Unread post
Johan van Rensburg wrote
Sorry to (not) disappoint, anne-marie, but nothing will be changing as the IDs as given are correct, of that I have no doubt. Accept what I post as ID pearls, even if they differ from your bird guidebooks. See, I'm a proud fella - I work extremely hard at making sure I post error-free challenges. :lol: :lol: :lol:
I know that Johan... what I can have did better :lol:


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:04 pm Unread post
thank you for the new superb "close ups" serie :gflower:


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:23 pm Unread post
Dabchick wrote
Okay I'll admit defeat on the prinia. With those two pics right next to each other I can see that the tawny has more russet on the wing... seeing the back view of the black-chested on its own, the wings looked russet enough to me, but obviously I was wrong...

:gflower:


Gawdness Guhraciousness! But you are tough to convince!

Dabchick wrote

Johan van Rensburg wrote
#4 – Amethyst Sunbird (f). Only the female Scarlet-chested and the Amethyst sunbird show a fairly distinct bib. The Amethyst fem is also the only sunbird with a discernable eyebrow


Yes on the fairly distinct bib. Which is why I eliminated all but the the two mentioned female sunbirds. But...in the scarlet chested sunbird, the female's throat and breast is darker and mottled rather than streaked as in female amethyst sunbird. On this birdie, it looks mottled to me. Also, the pale (but discernable) supercilium starts above the eye and not at the base of the bill as in amethyst. In this bird it starts above the eye. So I'm sticking with my ID of female scarlet-chested sunbird.


Image
Amethyst sunbird female in the nest

Image
Scarlet-chested sunbird nesting

When you do the research to find the material and then start comparing, (this is the work you should be doing, now you have me doing it! :lol: :shock: :big_eyes: ) you see those ID pointers referred to so much better:
1. The mottling on the female's throat is now absolutely clear!
2. The explanation about the Scarlet-chested’s supercilium starting above the eye and for amethyst at the base of the bill also becomes clearer.
3. Now we can also see some other features, like differences in the nest: Scarlet-chested has a rudimentary roof, which Amethyst does not.
4. The moustachial streak for SCS is more pronounced than for AS

A picture is worth 1000 words, hey!!

Now let these efforts serve as an example of how to seriously approach a tough birdie ID :twisted:

BTW, I am NOT doing any more convincing... If you still disagree, I lack the communication skills required to swing your PoV


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:20 pm Unread post
Johan, thank you for being so patient. You have put so much work into all these challengers, and I for one appreciate so much the time and effort that you have given to them.

Just love your pics in the new Challenge, now to get at it....... our team is complete again, so lets see what we can do this time. It really is great learning so much from you, thank you.


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Virtual Ranger
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Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:57 am Unread post
Johan van Rensburg wrote
Dabchick wrote
Okay I'll admit defeat on the prinia. With those two pics right next to each other I can see that the tawny has more russet on the wing... seeing the back view of the black-chested on its own, the wings looked russet enough to me, but obviously I was wrong...

:gflower:


Gawdness Guhraciousness! But you are tough to convince!

Dabchick wrote

Johan van Rensburg wrote
#4 – Amethyst Sunbird (f). Only the female Scarlet-chested and the Amethyst sunbird show a fairly distinct bib. The Amethyst fem is also the only sunbird with a discernable eyebrow


Yes on the fairly distinct bib. Which is why I eliminated all but the the two mentioned female sunbirds. But...in the scarlet chested sunbird, the female's throat and breast is darker and mottled rather than streaked as in female amethyst sunbird. On this birdie, it looks mottled to me. Also, the pale (but discernable) supercilium starts above the eye and not at the base of the bill as in amethyst. In this bird it starts above the eye. So I'm sticking with my ID of female scarlet-chested sunbird.


Image
Amethyst sunbird female in the nest

Image
Scarlet-chested sunbird nesting

When you do the research to find the material and then start comparing, (this is the work you should be doing, now you have me doing it! :lol: :shock: :big_eyes: ) you see those ID pointers referred to so much better:
1. The mottling on the female's throat is now absolutely clear!
2. The explanation about the Scarlet-chested’s supercilium starting above the eye and for amethyst at the base of the bill also becomes clearer.
3. Now we can also see some other features, like differences in the nest: Scarlet-chested has a rudimentary roof, which Amethyst does not.
4. The moustachial streak for SCS is more pronounced than for AS

A picture is worth 1000 words, hey!!

Now let these efforts serve as an example of how to seriously approach a tough birdie ID :twisted:

BTW, I am NOT doing any more convincing... If you still disagree, I lack the communication skills required to swing your PoV


I'm not trying to be quarrelsome Johan! Just trying to learn where I'm going wrong, if I'm going wrong.

Okay. I believe you on the sun bird. And the supercilium issue indeed becomes clearer, but...

"mottled" means "dappled" or "dotted"; and "streaked" means "striped" or "with lines"; so...to me the AS female's throat look more "dappled" and the SCS female's throat more "striped" completely the opposite of what the books say :( ... how are one supposed to make a decent ID with info like that...?


Johan van Rensburg wrote
When you do the research to find the material and then start comparing, (this is the work you should be doing, now you have me doing it! :lol: :shock: :big_eyes: )


I've asked before - if all the usual bird books (Roberts, Sasol, Newmans, Lapa etc. ) don't have the correct information, where must I find the info? I'm happy to find the material myself, but where?.... The internet is not a very reliable source when it comes to birds... I've googled images of prinias as a last resort, and still came out convinced that the one you posted was a tawny-flanked.... So, what better (accessible) resources are out there that one can use?


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:46 am Unread post
Dabchick wrote
[I've asked before - if all the usual bird books (Roberts, Sasol, Newmans, Lapa etc. ) don't have the correct information, where must I find the info? I'm happy to find the material myself, but where?.... The internet is not a very reliable source when it comes to birds... I've googled images of prinias as a last resort, and still came out convinced that the one you posted was a tawny-flanked.... So, what better (accessible) resources are out there that one can use?


Oi! Who said that Roberts, Sasol, Newmans', don't have correct information? The information is there, just in varying degrees of usefulness. It is up to you to discover which one suits a situation best. Unfortunately that is via a process called experience - something that you can only obtain over time and by putting yourself in the field, in "harm's way"...

The challenge series is not a shortcut to get all the answers... Nobody, no book, no website can do that for you. The challenge series serves to highlight birding issues... to make 'mites aware. Accept that a bird guide cannot supply all the tricky detail in one paragraph. Roberts VII is THE authority on birds in SA. Go take a walk on THAT wild side (hardly any illustrations and lots of word pictures) and you come away with a feeling of utter helplessness. However, if you do all your eliminations up front, such a work can supply that final push to the correct ID.

The on-line Roberts site has all the information from Rob VII, plus many 1000s of illustrations, pix and videos... Maybe you should give that a try?

Just remember that a word picture is generically written to describe a number of features. What one writer will try to convey as "mottled", another will term "heavy dark markings". The point here is that you have to get an understanding of what the author tries to convey. Afterall understanding is in the eye of the beholder...

Image
Mottled spinetail, underside Large view

Let's take the case of a bird named after its mottled markings... To my mind the SCS's throat markings fits this example best, won't you agree?

Anycase, you are on your own now as this challenger is now off to put himself in "harms way!"


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Virtual Ranger
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Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:05 pm Unread post
Johan van Rensburg wrote
Oi! Who said that Roberts, Sasol, Newmans', don't have correct information?


Uhm, you did....


Johan van Rensburg wrote
…. And you can also be assured that you will find various guidebooks that will have ID descriptions and illustrations that differ significantly - often even erroneous in its depiction. Guidebooks are NOT birding gospel.

….

The objective of this challenge series is multi-facetted. It attempt to make 'mites more familiar with their guidebooks. It tries to teach 'mites that guidebooks are not birding gospel and the more resources you consult, the better information you will get to work with.


I was curious as to what the "more resources" you were talking about, which you have now answered as Robert VII, which I don't have but will attempt to obtain, as well as the Roberts website.

Thanks.


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Virtual Ranger
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Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:50 pm Unread post
Quote
I've asked before - if all the usual bird books (Roberts, Sasol, Newmans, Lapa etc. ) don't have the correct information, where must I find the info? I'm happy to find the material myself, but where?.... The internet is not a very reliable source when it comes to birds... I've googled images of prinias as a last resort, and still came out convinced that the one you posted was a tawny-flanked.... So, what better (accessible) resources are out there that one can use?


Dabchick has raised a good point. My simple answer to that is to go out and bird, bird bird, and build up all the experience that you can in terms of calls, variations in plumage accross different parts of the country, the different breeding plumages, moults, behavioural characteristics, migrations, juvenile forms, melanistic forms etc. This is why we bird, because anybody can start off birding, but nobody will ever know everything. There is endless scope to personal development learning and growth to become a birding guru. There are friendships to be made on the way, and opportunities to contribute to the birding community and society in general as a whole.

If one considers the natural history aspects, they tell us, that there is a continuous dynamic process of evolution, change and adaptation taking place among bird species, breeding structures, food sources and survival strategies, and so the attainment of absolute knowlege on birds is a moving target...just look at how distribution maps have changed over time in Roberts or Newmans.

And finally, most bird guides are put together as labours of love, and nobody gets rich producing them. The people who put them together do not know everything, and so each version is biased by their sphere of experience. Having just moved down to the Garden route, I struggled initially to ID one or two common species on the basis that the local variants where quite different to what I'm used to at home.


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:39 pm Unread post
Hey all........I sneaked off the Kruger yesterday and I am (sadly) already back home (I term this a Kruger Quickie). I just scanned over the posts for the last 2 days and just want to add two cents........I agree that the science / terminology / accuracy etc. in bird watching is imperative. Correct names, color descriptions and making sure that ID's are correct beyond all doubt.......all of that is very important. But lets not forget why we watch and enjoy birds and why, for that matter, we participate in this challenge. Its all about fun and exercising the privileged that we have to watch birds and learn about birds from a great (greatest) part of the world. I regard myself as a able (LBJ's excluded) bird watcher, but i'm not gonna break myself over a low score in a ID challenge.............
Thanks for the work Johan. :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:


Re: Bird ID Challenge.

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Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:59 pm Unread post
Waterbuck wrote
But lets not forget why we watch and enjoy birds and why, for that matter, we participate in this challenge. Its all about fun and exercising the privileged that we have to watch birds and learn about birds from a great (greatest) part of the world. I regard myself as a able (LBJ's excluded) bird watcher, but i'm not gonna break myself over a low score in a ID ...:


Hear hear! :thumbs_up:
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