Well, at least I was strong out of the gate this month. Unfortunately, things have slowed down a bit as of late due to massive amounts of spring cleaning taking place around the house. Cleaning brought a bonus with it this year. Linda was continually making comments regarding my Halloween Lab still sitting in the middle of our newly remodeled basement. Personally, I think this is a fabulous place for animatronics construction, but I can see her point – it has been there pretty much since last August. Decided it was best to heed the warnings and cleaned out the small room previously used for the remodeling staging. I must say it looks pretty nice and might put a project post on it when I get time – expecting big things now from the evil depths of the new lab! Knowing my readers have been waiting patiently, decided it would be prudent to dust the cobwebs off the blog.
Say hello to my little feathered friend.
Want to spend a day nose deep in reference books, try to ID a non-breeding adult shorebird. You have to admire the experts in this field since they basically ALL look alike – at least to me. For starters, I usually check the regions to see if there can be any narrowing there. This particular specimen was taken at Galveston, Texas back in Nov 2013. Well that did little to narrow the field since the Texas Gulf is a favored stomping ground for all the Peep breeds..
Hit the jump to find out what this Peep is!
Next up is trying to whittle the list down with some color palette analysis. Let’s see, lightish gray, white spots, white underbelly and a black bill. This did filter out a few of the options since some of them have a slightly different coloring. The very black bill helps a bit and those solid gray legs at least filter out the ones possessing yellow and orange legs. Still plenty of options left on the list. Next up the hard science – size ratios. There are some definite visible differences when it comes to the relative sizes of the body parts. Take for instance the relative size of the bill to the head. The length of the legs will quickly filter out the tall varieties. The small to medium sized bill (almost equal to the width of the head) is a good clue that puts it in the Plover category for me. Now we are close and time to check Cornell to see if they can help pinpoint the ID. Based on the reference pictures, the good guess is either a Black-Bellied Plover or perhaps an American Golden-Plover. More reading, but at least we are in the ballpark.
From the descriptions provided, the Black-Bellied has a larger stature and the Golden-Plover doesn’t really have the all white rump. The final step in all IDs is to very with my brother Ron. Always good to have another set of eyes on the bird and he is much better than I am at differentiating all the similar looking shorebirds. His consensus came back in agreement with the Black-Bellied variety so that is more than enough for me. Good news, another successful ID. Bad news, I already have this bird – even in breeding plumage from a previous trip to Ft Myers (link here). Still glad to get the alternative plumage shot in the tin. Not to mention, I think some of these shots are really cute – especially the one below, although, wish I would have positioned myself lower in the sand.
Oops, out of pictures. Forgot I took a few out due to looking similar to ones I wanted to keep in the post. In closing thought I would leave you with one interesting fact about this bird. It happens to be the only American plover with a hind toe on the foot itself – Cornell mentions it is hard to locate in the field being so small – I can confirm this being that I still haven’t seen it – ha.
Take it easy everyone. Hope this bird is a little more pleasing to the eye that the last post.
2 thoughts on “Just Me and My Peeps”
Peeps. The bane of bird identification (well, along with sparrows, warblers, gulls and other shorebirds). As you mention, the leg color and bill-to-head length ratio seem to be the best indicators, but it would be a lot easier all around if they just named all the peeps to one species (Peeples) and let it go.
Thanks for the identification details and multiple angles of the bird!
Ah, now I definitely like Peeples! Although I did see We the Peeples only got a 37 on Rotten Tomatoes. I would say if they did that our bird count would take a significant hit so not sure I can afford that right now (not sure if you have more of these on your list than me or not at this point, but I can’t afford to take any chances – ha.
I was thinking of you on the shoot and made sure I had a full 360 view of the bird – missed the shot from directly below it, but every time I got close to it by burrowing through the sand it would move over a couple more feet. Finally had to give up when most of the beach looked like a huge mole was looking for a pearl.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!