Mystery bird


Is the identity of this bird actually a mystery? Well, I know what it is.

However, the Sybley Guide to Birds offered no guidance. And, Cornell’s Merlin Bird ID (an avian-recognition app) made a number of guesses, all of which were wrong.

So, I thought that others might enjoy the challenge of identifying this large brownish bird.

What is this late-summer bird?


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12 Responses to Mystery bird

  1. Douglas Sly says:

    It’s a BBJ, for sure.

  2. Judy Brown says:

    Hmmm. Is it really brown or is it a trick of the lighting? It looks to me like a Raven.

  3. Susan Durant says:

    A raven with scant melanin?

    • Alistair says:

      Susan, while this bird did not rate a mention in Sibley, this brownish bird is sufficiently common to have been illustrated on two birding websites.

  4. Tom Johnston says:

    Is this a dark morph Swainson’s Hawk or dark morph Rough-legged Hawk? I’m using Stokes Field Guide.

  5. Kim Poole says:

    Immature (brown eyes) golden eagle.

  6. Lorraine Symmes says:

    Ist year Bald Eagle—just fledged this summer.

  7. Alistair B Fraser says:

    The mystery bird is a juvenile Common Raven.

    As such, Judy Brown and Susan Durant came closest by just observing that the bird looked like a raven that was somehow deficient in melanin. However, they did not know that this is a known feature of ravens.

    It seems that the juvenile raven is sometimes just rather brownish, something that Sibley fails to mention. The site does mentions this and the National Geographic Magazine shows a really good picture of it.

    As to the raptor suggestions: By showing the view that I did — a raven’s bill that bends down and so looks rather like a hook in the foreshortened view — I knew this and, alas, was playing with you.

    So, no one said, “Oh come now, that is just a juvenile raven in its brown phase,” but two people came remarkably close to figuring it out. Congratulations to those two.

  8. Judy Brown says:

    You learn something everyday! Thanks for testing us!

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