[CT Birds] Final ID on my Grosbeak sighting last week

Chuck Imbergamo imbercj at comcast.net
Thu Oct 23 18:31:44 EDT 2014

Since I showed so many birders my pictures of what I thought was a Blue Grosbeak (and posted about last week), I wanted to update the CT birds group on the final ID.

I saw the bird in two brief sightings, interrupted by a non-birder, so my time to note all of the bird's features was very limited.  The bird showed itself in response to a Blue Grosbeak recording and exhibited behavior typically associated with the Blue Grosbeak (tail flicking).  I got an overall impression but didn't have as much time as I would have liked to observe all the bird's features (and I was busy taking pictures when I saw it).  I tried for 40 minutes to relocate the bird to get a better look after it moved, but I was unable to see it again, unfortunately.  I was one of many birders who looked later and the following day also.

Most birders that saw my pictures initially thought that it was a Grosbeak or said it was too tricky to ID.  I sent the pictures to expert Frank Mantlik who had concerns when he saw them and I learned from Frank that the Indigo Bunting also sometimes exhibits the tail-flicking behavior.  Frank reviewed and passed the pictures on to other knowledgeable birders, one of whom is a contributor to major birding publications.  I also carefully reviewed the photos today with the very knowledgeable Jerry Connolly.

The conclusion of all is that the bird I photographed was an Indigo Bunting and not a Blue Grosbeak, so I have edited my eBird report accordingly. This in no way reflects on the earlier sightings; I understand that the other birders got good looks and were very solid on their ID.  I just wasn't as lucky as they were to see the Grosbeak!  

In retrospect, my initial ID was influenced by the response and behavior of the bird together with the earlier sightings.  Even though the final ID wasn't what I thought it would be, it's a credit to the CT birding community to spend time on a careful review, and most importantly for the ID to be correct!  Thanks to all who looked at my pictures and helped. 

Chuck Imbergamo

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