Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 19:45:07 -0400
Reply-To: Chad Skaggs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sender: Georgia Birders Online <GABO-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Chad Skaggs <chadskaggs@MINDSPRING.COM>
Subject: Help ID a fledgling
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I've been seeing a bird (well, two or three of them, at least) in my yard that
I can't ID. I hope someone can help.
I live in Decatur, in the Agnes Scott area. My yard, and most of my
neighbors' yards, are heavily covered with elderly hardwoods--gum, tulip
poplar southern black oak, etc. I run a routine feeder that draws the usual:
grackles, Tufted Titmous, White-Breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, three (at
least) of the woodpeckers, etc. A block of suet attracts woodpeckers, Carolina
Wrens and, yesterday, a Brown Thrasher.
But the problem bird is a little gray jobbie, about the size of a larger
sparrow, or maybe an Eastern Towhee.
The birds (I have seen at least two together--they may be a clutch of
four) first appeared a couple of weeks ago. They are gray all over--bill,
legs, everything. No dash of white or any other color anywhere. In good
light, if I am lucky and look carefully, I can see faint and fine streaking,
gray on gray, on the breast.
When I first saw them they had the rough look of many fledglings, and
they did not appear to be adept at handling themselves. They were alone,
in the sense that no other birds appeared to notice them and they didn't
notice others. Now, more experienced at flying and general living, they
behave more like grown-ups.
The next day after I saw them, when they were on the ground where
were scrounging grain that had fallen from the feeders, these little gray
birds and the towhees _did_ notice each other. In fact, a little gray
jobbie would approach an adult towhee, make its body tremble, extend
its wings a bit and shake them, mouth open, and the towhee would put
something into its mouth.
Ha! I thought. Fledgling towhees.
But the LGJs looked a bit larger than I thought towhees should be at
that stage of development. And further, they didn't act right. Towhees
typcally thrash among the leaves and other stuff on the ground, aprntly
kicking things away in a search for food. These LGJs did not scratch.
In fact, they _walked_ about, quite smoothly. I never saw a towhee
walk, but then, I haven't seen all the towhees.
I have various field guides, but none that pictures a fledgling
towhee. (Couldn't somebody get a Handy Field Guide to Fledglings
together for us?)
Does anyone out there know whether towhees ever walk? Know
what a fledgling towhee, and a fledgling cowbird, look like?
I say cowbird because it occurred to me that the LGJs may be
I would be glad to hear from anyone who wants to take a swing
at identifying these Little Gray Jobbies.
Please reply to the list; those who aren't interested can delete the
message, while those who _are_ interested will have a chance to
see it. :)
Chad Skaggs, in Decatur, DeKalb County
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