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2600 Robins, Orchard & Summer; mis-ID’s of Yellow-billed Loon, Little Stint, & “Sage” Sparrows

2600 Robins, Orchard & Summer; mis-ID’s of Yellow-billed Loon, Little Stint, & “Sage” Sparrows

By {authorlink} – 10:48 am

Early Thursday morning I counted departing American Robins from the large San Diego Zoo roost from the zoo parking lot and tallied 2600 birds between 6:19-6:45 AM. The young male Orchard Oriole continues in the several coral trees at the southeast corner of the lot, first appearing at 7:10 AM.
Today’s installment of the “A Summer Tanager a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” is brought to you by a female in a nice little canyon that runs behind homes southward from Thorn St., just east of Boundary St., at the border of the southern North Park and Altadena neighborhoods, just west of the 805 X 15 interchange.
I can speak for several of us eBird reviewers in saying that we are noting a fair number of problematic reports of the Yellow-billed Loon, Little Stint, and Sagebrush/Bell’s Sparrows. I’d guess that in the past ten days that we have seen as many photos submitted of misidentified Common Loons being reported as the Yellow-billed as we have the real Yellow-billed. Almost all of these problematic birds are by visiting birders whose abilities we do not know. But as is often the case, the written details accompanying the mis-ID’d photos often match what the Yellow-billed actually looks like. And that is the same problem with the Little Stint: written details that almost always say just the right things about what the Little Stint should look like and behave, but the photos fairly regularly show what is likely a distant Western or Least Sandpiper. And then there’s the saga of Sagebrush and Bell’s Sparrows out in the Borrego area. Here the issue is folks knowing what characters to mention but then having some photos that are anomalous, perhaps showing varying malar stripe boldness and darkness depending on the bird’s pose, or individuals that show the malar pattern more like Bell’s but a back pattern more like Sagebrush. We would STRONGLY ENCOURAGE all birders who are reporting this species pair from the desert to watch the recorded SDFO zoom meeting presentation on this very topic from just last month. See the SDFO website for the link. It’s a pity that relatively few birders watched it compared to the number who report most/all these birds to species when they visit the desert.
Paul Lehman, San Diego