Challenging Bird Identification in the Rain: Lambton Woods, October 15, 2020

This morning was my 32nd fall walk of 2020 and the first with steady rain.

Binoculars aren’t too useful in the rain so I took photos with a little umbrella overhead.

Right away I spotted a bird that seemed unfamiliar.

Too greenish to be a sparrow:

Too much yellow and black to be a pipit.

The white throat suggests Yellow-rumped Warbler:

but NO yellow rump:

a quick look at the “confusing fall warblers” page in my Peterson Guide.

I check the page that shows species with streaks or wing bars.

There are 15 of them:

Closest are Blackpoll, Cape May and Yellow-rumped.

It really looks like Yellow-rumped but where is the yellow rump?

Fortunately, I took over 100 photos and two showed what I was looking for:

a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

In all of these photos, I discovered a few of a different bird:

It’s clearly a sparrow, but the breast area is not clearly shown in the photo.

The above photo shows a broad brown lateral throat stripe and a white throat.

It is a Song Sparrow. Usually they are easy to identify because of the dark central breast spot. This was not visible in any of this morning’s photos.

Song Sparrow from another day:

Song Sparrow
Mallards (male)

Species list:  mallard, American black duck, ring-billed gull, herring gull, downy woodpecker, blue jay, American crow, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, yellow-rumped warbler, house sparrow, European starling, red-winged blackbird, common grackle, northern cardinal, white-throated sparrow, song sparrow. (17 species)

Some botany:

Phragmites (Phragmites australis)
New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
Panicled Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)
Missouri Willow (Salix eriocephala)
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Sandbar Willow (Salix exigua)
Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Pinkweed (Persicaria pensylvanica)
Three Square Sedge
Bitter Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)
Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium)
Barnyard Grass (Echinochloa crusgalli)
Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo)
Spindletree (Euonymus europaea)
Sugar Maple
Hackberry leaf galls
Freeman Maple (Acer x freemanii)

Today’s group:


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run.   – John Keats (1795–1821) 

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “Challenging Bird Identification in the Rain: Lambton Woods, October 15, 2020

  1. Wendy Trueman

    I loved scrolling down as you solved the ID mystery. And I do think today’s group should be rechristened “Today’s Intrepids.” 🌧😊

  2. Gloria James

    That little bird was an expert at hiding its identity! In your photos I’ve observed so many colour combinations of feathers on all the birds. It’s simply not a brown bird or a red and black combination. It is truly detail detective work.

    The rain enhances the fall colours.

  3. Lisa Volkov

    Gorgeous photos. I agree with what was said above about rain enhancing fall colours! Taking us through the painstaking process of bird identification was fascinating. Thanks!


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