Date: 4/2/17 7:33 pm
From: world oceans <world.oceans7...>
Subject: Re: [GABO-L] Wilson's Phalarope, Clayton County Water Authority--E.L. Huie Ponds, Apr 2, 2017
Hi, I am somewhat hesitant to respond in detail, since I did not see the
bird in the field. I only saw the photos, which unfortunately I did not
save to my computer...and it appears they have now been removed from the
ebird report, so I can't look at them again. I will tell you what I
remember...

At first glance, I did actually think the bird might be a lesser yellwlegs.
But as soon as I began studying the photos, my opinion changed. I did not
notice an eye ring. What I did notice was a lot of white at the base of the
bill and above (around?) the eye. The pattern of plumage in the upperparts,
the posture of the body and the general color (which appeared much more
grey to me than brown) suggested it was a phalarope.

I have seen many of both species in the field in various places & seasons.
One thing I can tell you is that they can be difficult to separate. To help
refresh my memory, I looked at dozens of photos of each species this
evening (by the way, the media page on ebird.org is a wonderful resource
but, like most of what is on the internet, it is not perfect...I noticed
several photos of lesser yellowlegs on the Wilson's phal. page, and several
Greaters on the Lesser yllwlegs page, etc.).

Anyway, one comment about the bill: sometimes if a Wilson's is holding its
head down and if you look at the face straight on from directly in front of
the bird, the base of the bill and the shape of the bill can look more like
a yellowleg's than a phalarope's. I have been fooled by this more than once
in the field.

What I think may be important with this particular bird is that it appears
to be somewhere in the transition between winter and breeding plumage. This
means that things like color of individual feathers, plumage patterns, and
facial color may not be typical or purely definitive. On the Huie bird, I
saw a trace of barring on either the sides of the tail or the primaries (I
couldn't tell which), and on the flanks. The flanks barring occurs often on
the phalarope; the barring near the tail would suggest a yellowlegs. But
since I could not see this in great detail in the photos, and since the
bird is probably in transition plumage, this is not conclusive either.

I generally think of yellowlegs as having a more intricate pattern of
barring, scallopping, etc in the plumage than phalaropes. It seemed to me
that the bird in the photos had a much more uniform plumage pattern than
what I'd expect from a yellowlegs.

When in doubt I always ask myself about the jizz, the gestalt, the way I
*feel* about a bird. Posing that question after looking at the three photos
of the Huie bird, and many photos of other birds, left me tending toward
phalarope as the ID. There was something about the overall color, the
posture, the plumage pattern and the facial markings that did *not* suggest
yellowlegs to me.

So I defer to those who actually saw the bird, and hope that I will be able
to see it or to see more photos.....

Good birding!
James Gibson
Clayton Co.

On Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 1:58 AM, <whatch11...> wrote:

> The Wilson's Phalarope appears to be a Lesser Yellowlegs. The bird doesn't
> show the thin needle like bill, and the marking appear wrong on the back.
> The eye ring is apparent in the photos, Wilsons does not have an eye ring.
> I ask for someone to explain what makes this a Phalarope and not a Lesser
> Yellowlegs?
>
> Thank you,
>
> Wes Hatch
>
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> > On Apr 2, 2017, at 6:15 PM, world oceans <world.oceans7...>
> wrote:
> >
> > Nice!! I have seen a number of phalaropes that were pretty dark on the
> > back, especially in transitional plumage (which I think this bird
> probably
> > is). Plus, the coverts (especially primary coverts) tend to be dark, so
> if
> > the bird folds its wings a certain way, it can create the illusion of a
> > dark back. Also have seen some with relatively dark caps.....
> >
> > Nice photos and an exciting find!
> >
> > James Gibson
> >
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
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