7 Bird Identification Puzzles from Col Sam Smith Park/ May 22, 2019

Before I took up photography two years ago, it was always tough during warbler and other small bird migration season to be completely certain as to what species of bird I was seeing. The fact that warblers never sit still, are often high in leaf-filled trees and frequently don’t sing create this problem.

Here are some photos from this morning on this 11 degree, overcast and windy day. See what you think. At the end of the post, I will write what I think.








We were hoping to see Whimbrels this morning as they traditionally pass through this park at this time of year. There is a point of land called “Whimbrel Point” which is supposed to be patrolled by a squad of birders who takes shifts all day long for 10 days or so. There were 3 observers at 8 am but, by the time we arrived, no one was present. Perhaps the wind and lack of Whimbrels drove them away. Here is our group at Whimbrel Point:

The water levels here are far higher than I have ever seen in the past.

Some park scenes:

High Park is not the only place where cherry blossoms are in bloom:

More bird photographs:

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Common Tern
Common Tern and Ring-billed Gull
Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Starling in box intended for some other species
Northern Flicker (male)
Baltimore Oriole (male)
Baltimore Oriole (male)
Common Grackle
Yellow Warbler (male)

Let’s look at the puzzle birds:


2 bird species are somewhat plain in colour with a grayish head, an olive back and an eyebrow stripe. If the stripe is black, the bird is a Red-eyed Vireo.

Red-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

If the stripe is white, the bird is a Tennessee Warbler:

Tennessee Warbler


The female Yellow Warbler is yellow all over with faint wing bars and a very black eye.

The Orange-crowned Warbler is a dingy yellow with no wing bars:

Orange-crowned Warbler

#3 is a female Yellow warbler:

Yellow Warbler (female)
Yellow Warbler (female)


This bird was chummy with a little troupe of Brown-headed Cowbirds but the female is supposed to be all gray. This is a juvenile cowbird.


Plain in colour with a grayish head but NO obvious eye stripe. A Warbling Vireo.


Male warblers can be tricky to identify. Females share many of the same characteristics but in a faded-looking way. This bird has a heavily striped breast and is, I think, a female Cape May Warbler. If the wing bars were more evident, I would be certain.

Cape May Warbler (female)


An obvious flycatcher, but which one?

The wing bars and NO eye ring make it an Eastern Pewee.

Eastern Pewee
Eastern Pewee

Species list: double-crested cormorant, red-necked grebe, Canada goose, mute swan, mallard, American black duck, long-tailed duck, herring gull, ring-billed gull, Caspian tern, common tern, mourning dove, chimney swift, rock pigeon, northern flicker, eastern kingbird, eastern pewee,  tree swallow, rough-winged swallow, barn swallow, blue jay, northern mockingbird, gray catbird, American robin, European starling, warbling vireo, red-eyed vireo, black and white warbler, Tennessee warbler, northern parula warbler, Cape May warbler, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat, American redstart, house sparrow, red-winged blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, common grackle, Baltimore oriole, northern cardinal, American goldfinch, song sparrow.  (42 species)


t was the Rainbow gave thee birth,
And left thee all her lovely hues;
And, as her mother’s name was Tears,
So runs it in my blood to choose
For haunts the lonely pools, and keep
In company with trees that weep.
Go you and, with such glorious hues,
Live with proud peacocks in green parks;
On lawns as smooth as shining glass,
Let every feather show its marks;
Get thee on boughs and clap thy wings
Before the windows of proud kings.
Nay, lovely Bird, thou art not vain;
Thou hast no proud, ambitious mind;
I also love a quiet place
That’s green, away from all mankind;
A lonely pool, and let a tree
Sigh with her bosom over me. 
William Henry Davies

Miles Hearn

4 thoughts on “7 Bird Identification Puzzles from Col Sam Smith Park/ May 22, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *