Date: 7/11/18 5:11 pm
From: David Irons <llsdirons...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Is this a Western Wood-Pewee?

Posting bird ID questions to a forum of 1000+ birders will always be met with lots of “opinions” about what the bird is. Unfortunately, all opinions are not created equal. In my case I was not offering an opinion, just as Shawneen was not offering an opinion about the young warbler. I could have shared all my weel-founded reasons for asserting that the flycatcher is a Willow Flycatcher (it is), but opted instead to post the article that I wrote on the topic. Using all the tips that are shared in that piece, it’s not hard to arrive at the correct conclusion. Field guides are limited by necessity, otherwise they would reside on bookshelves and not be suitable for use in the field.

There is only one way to fully learn all the variances one might see in common birds and that is to NEVER stop studying them. The average birder only casually looks at common birds as they focus on finding birds that they haven’t seen before, or chase rare birds that others have found. The latter is great sport. I engage in it often. But in the absence of something new or rare to see, I entertain and further educate myself by studying and photographing common birds. I often say that I rarely spend a day in the field without noticing or learning something new about a common bird.

I would guess that Tim Rodenkirk looks at birds in much the same way that I do. I totally agree with the sentiments he shared. People who are experts in any field are experts because they are more intense and focused in their efforts. All Tim was saying was “this is how I became an expert.” Tim is an expert, thus his advice should be followed. I suppose it’s hard to say this aloud without coming off as snarky, intimidating or whatever. None of the experts are trying to be snarky or intimidating, they are merely telling it like it is.

Note that I am not suggesting that you were put off by Tim’s post, but clearly some in the forum were. Reverse snobbery and hand-wringing over feelings is often the response when experts come into this forum and replace incorrect opinion and speculation with facts and a dose of reality.

Dave Irons
Beaverton, OR

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 10, 2018, at 10:29 PM, Jim Leonard <photojleonard...><mailto:<photojleonard...>> wrote:

Hi Tim, thanks for your advice. I did check my field guide on what I thought was a Western Wood-Pewee. I always try to figure it out first. I posted the photo on OBOL to confirm what I thought it was. Several people agreed with my identification. Several thought also that it was a Willow Flycatcher. David Iron posted a link to an article he wrote comparing the two species that was very helpful. The Bird Guides aren't always that helpful with poor photos and information. I also posted the Common Yellowthroat fledgling to verify what species it was. Fledglings are difficult to identify because they don't have the mature markings that a bird book shows. I use OBOL as one of my educational sources and most members are more than happy to help out and give their opinions and information on how they came to their conclusions. Today's example showed that even with a photo OBOL members had different opinions on what the species was. I am trying not to take offense that you just assumed that I didn't put any effort into looking in a field guide first before posting on OBOL. I have several guides and take the time to look at them. I use OBOL to confirm my findings and sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong. Thanks for your email, Jim.

On Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 7:29 AM, Jim Leonard <photojleonard...><mailto:<photojleonard...>> wrote:
I photographed what I think might be a Western Wood-Pewee at Baskett Slough NWR yesterday. What do you think? Photo by Jim Leonard.

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