Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Midwest Moppets

A bit ago, I put out a call for UFDs, and our Ken responded with some stunning photography. Even if you’re all like, “Oh, pfft, Dana, these are simplicity themselves!” you are still going to love them.

Here’s our first UFD. Ken manages to make it look lovely despite its poor bald head:

Image shows a bird with downy silvery-gray feathers on its chest, blue and black barred feathers on its wings, a cape of fine darker gray-blue feathers, and a ridiculously bald head with a few tiny feathers clinging on here and there. It looks like it's pondering the loss of its head feathers.
UFD I. Photo courtesy Ken. Used with permission.

I laughed when I pulled this one up, I am ashamed to admit. I mean, those few pathetic feathers just clinging on to that plucked-looking head. Poor dear! Ken sent us a couple more photos of it, which I’ll post either after you’ve identified it or if you stall.

Our next one has its earholes decently covered, but it got caught with crumbs all over its beak.

Image shows a bird perched beside a feed bag. It's a mottled yellow and brown, with a yellow-orange patch on the cap of its wing. It's looking to the side with its beak slightly open, as if asking why its lunch has been interrupted for a photo op. There are a few crumbs on its beak.
UFD II. Photo courtesy Ken. Used with permission.

This is reminding me that I’m going to have to get a better camera soon! I mean, mine’s good, but these photos are marvelous. And next summer, if I haven’t arranged a move to Castle Rock, I’m going to be in this incredible back yard with feeders and many awesome birdies. I also need to get some sort of glasses that constantly record, so I can show you moments like the one where Pipa startled a Great Blue Heron from right under our feet as we crossed the creek bridge. Even if I move to Castle Rock, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get you great birds, so yes, a newer camera will be in order.

In the meantime, though, we have folks like Ken feeding us the most delicious images of lovely birds! Look at this beauty:

Image shows a bird perched on a loop of wrought iron. It's leaning forward in a sort of racing pose. It's slate gray with gorgeous cobalt and aquamarine feathers scattered on its head and chest.
UFD III. Photo courtesy Ken. Used with permission.

How wonderful are they?! Thank you, Ken!

There will be more UFDs from Ken, but you, too, could have your unidentified birdies featured here! They can even be identified, of course – just because you know what they are doesn’t mean others won’t have to go look them up, and have immense fun doing so. You can send any photos you have got to dhunterauthor at gmail. And no, they don’t have to be this pretty! Just visible and as non-blurry as possible. We love them all!

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Midwest Moppets

9 thoughts on “Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Midwest Moppets

  1. 2

    Aww, what a sorry-looking bald jay! Apparently that’s not uncommon during molting season or among young birds. I’ve seen a few towhees with a similar look.

    I think the third one is a grackle, actually.

  2. rq

    Yeah, the last is probably a grackle – I went with jackdaw because it was the first impression and I had a sleeping child all over me, so couldn’t google with ease. Took all I had to type out my guesses. :D You’re probably correct on the red-winged blackbird, too! That flash of bright yellow on the shoulder confused me, but I’m not one to hesitate with my erroneous guessing. :)

  3. 5

    I was going to say “finch” on the second one but can go along with the immature blackbird theory. Definitely blue jay on the first. Third one I didn’t know, not something we get around here, but it sure looks like the grackle in wikipedia.

  4. 6

    The third one is a common grackle. I haven’t seen many of them, as we have boat tail grackles here. We have a LOT of boat tail grackles. And we are coming into the time of year when they leave their scattered nests and start to congregate. You’ll see thousands of them just before sunset, on the tops of building, along power lines, the tops of bill boards, all talking to each other. The noise is, well, noisy. And rather cheerful-sounding.

    When it gets dark, they head for their preferred bird trees, thousands to a tree. They seem to prefer trees adjacent to large parking lots for some reason. They make an ungodly mess. Attempts to get them to choose another tree when their presence is inconvenient usually fail.

    The males have a little dance they do to try to entice females. It’s a riot. Their “threatening another male” display is to stick their beaks straight up in the air. Imagine two males alternating between aggressively looking straight up at the sky and trying to dance around a female, who is appears to be completely uninterested.

    I once spent several years working on a project where there were large periods of hanging around outside in an urban environment. I got to know the grackles very well.

  5. 8

    ‘Tis the season when bird ID becomes pretty tough. There are lots of juveniles around, and they don’t very often look much like the adults, and the adults are molting, so they don’t look like themselves either. These aren’t too bad, though. The Blue Jay looks awful now, but in a few weeks it’ll be as perky and beautiful as ever.

    As Heliconia mentioned, the middle guy is an immature Red-winged Blackbird. The bill shape, conical and sharply pointed is a good mark for blackbirds in general, and the red coverts on the shoulder are perfect for a young male Red-winged.

    And, last but not least, otrame nailed the molting male Common Grackle. In my area (S-c Arizona), a Common Grackle would burn up the rare bird alert, but they were plenty common in eastern Colorado, where I started birding back in the Jurassic.

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