WILLIAM SWAINSON, ORNITHOLOGIST: 224 YEARS OLD TODAY


Swainson William 1789-1855.jpg

WILLIAM SWAINSON, ORNITHOLOGIST: 224 YEARS OLD TODAY

Happy Birthday, William Swainson, 224 years old today, honoured with a Google emblem, and… oh, sorry, we’ve run out of tiny candles for your cake… 

william-john-swainsons-224th-birthday-5655612935372800-hp

Swainson (1789 – 1855) was an English ornithologist, entomologist, conchologist, natural historian, and a gifted illustrator of the natural world. He was a pioneer of the new lithographic technology, which enabled quicker reproduction of his work than engraving.

Moluccan King Parrot from Zoological Illustrations
Swainson lent his name to a number of avian species, three of which may be found on Abaco. These are the Swainson’s Hawk, Thrush and Warbler. The hawk is a rare visitor; the thrush is a transient, passing through the Bahamas during migration; and the warbler is a hard-to-find winter resident. Here are the three species, courtesy of AUDUBON.ORG and for each, an illustrative video.
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SWAINSON’S HAWK Buteo swainsoni
Swainson's Hawk Swainson's Hawk

Swainson's_Hawk_b57-1-276_l

SWAINSON’S THRUSH Catharus ustulatus

 Swainson's Thrush Swainson's Thrush

Swainson's Thrush

SWAINSON’S WARBLER Limnothlypis swainsonii

Swainson's Warbler Swainson's Warbler

SwainsonsWarbler_Scott_Somershoe

ABACO BIRD ID CHALLENGE (FOR NON-EXPERTS): THE SOLUTION


ABACO BIRD ID CHALLENGE (FOR NON-EXPERTS ONLY): THE SOLUTION

This small bird (Oh. I’ve given away the size already) was photographed in June. I was looking through a batch of downloaded photos recently. When I saw it again, I knew at once which bird species it belonged to – but not the specific make. I did some research and came up with the answer. I’d nailed the ID – or thought I had. The photo was a long shot which I had to enlarge to see the markings more clearly, hence a lower overall quality. I sent the jpeg to an officially  avian-knowledgeable person for confirmation (hi, Alex!). The reply was swift. No, not the bird ‘swift’, I mean it was quick. It turns out that I was, as so often, completely wrong. Barking up the wrong tree. Chirping in the wrong nest. Perched on the wrong branch…

I’d say there are two definitely plausible candidates, and you may even think of others. So what bird is it? You can click on it to enlarge it. Please join in and give your answer using ‘leave a comment’ (tiny letters at the end of this post) or email rollingharbour.delphi@gmail.com  Or, if you are seeing this on Facebook, please reply on that.

UPDATE Thanks for emails. Opinion is divided, but one of the 2 candidates is definitely ahead… I’ll leave this over the weekend

SOLUTION Of the few replies, most were right. One or 2 were (wrongly) with me – I reckoned it was a SWAINSON’S WARBLER. No one suggested turkey vulture. The correct ID, and the reasons for it, were provided by Alex Hughes, to whom thanks: “The first bird is a BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO.  The black supercilium going through the eye and the heavy bill are good marks, which can resemble a Swainson’s Warbler, but a clinching mark here is the yellow wash underneath the tail at the rear of the bird”.

While I am dealing with mystery birds, I posted photos of a very sweet little JUVENILE  BANANAQUIT about a month ago. At the end I added a photo, which again has since been positively identified (thanks again, Alex)

“Finally, this bird was a distance shot. At the time, it looked larger than a bananaquit – more Loggerhead Kingbird-sized. Before I had downloaded the image and could see it clearly [rather than on the screen on the back of the camera], I’d wondered about a mangrove cuckoo. Then I saw at once that it didn’t tick the right boxes. So I decided it must just be a huge bananaquit with an orange rather than yellow front. If it’s anything else (a rare hybrid spindalisquit?), please say so!” It is a indeed bananaquit, but in my limited experience I have never seen one with a spindalis-orange front. Can anyone say if that is a common colouring on Abaco, or unusual?