Mystery bird

For all you birdwatchers and ornithologists out there:

There is a flock of birds that spends much of its time around the highway north of the Providence.  I haven’t gotten close enough to them to confirm this, but they appear to be a dove or pigeon-like bird in size and shape.  In a flock of about 15, most of them grey back, lighter underbelly.  But here’s the strange thing: one of them is flamingo-pink and another is parakeet-blue.  There is such a startling difference of colour in so few in the flock that I can’t imagine that they are doves or pigeons or that it’s simply a male-female difference in colour.

I haven’t been able to find the bird in Stoke’s Field Guide to Birds. Any suggestions?

10 thoughts on “Mystery bird

  1. Ange

    Could you be a bit more precise about the size of the bird? Doves/pigeons range in size from 6-15 inches in length! Also would be helpful to know if the birds you see are perching in trees or on the ground 🙂

    An option for the pink bird:
    Pine Grosbeak (these guys are about 8-10 inches)

    Option for the blue bird:
    Mountain Bluebird (7 inches)
    I can’t find any other blue birds that might frequent Manitoba.

    In terms of the larger flock that your two brightly coloured feathered friends are hanging out with, if the birds are in the trees Grey Catbird (about 9 inches) or Northern Mockingbird (10 inches) but not sure if either of these hang out in groups.
    I do know that Cedar Waxwings hang out in larger groups — they are about 8 inches and are grey on the back and a lighter greyish-yellow on the breast. They also look like they are wearing black Zorro masks 🙂 I’ve already been watching out for them this fall because we usually see them come through and visit our feeder about this time.

    The other possibility is that the two bright birds are actually escapees from a zoo or some person released tropical birds into the wild and they just found themselves some friends to hang out with 🙂

    Hope that helps!

  2. Marc Post author

    I’m going to check those birds in my book, but first a few comments:

    1. The pink and blue bird were seen among (i.e. together and with) a flock of otherwise greyish birds.

    2. They had the same general appearance (i.e. shape, flight pattern, etc.) of the rest of the flock.

    3. I believe they spend their time on the ground.

    Now what of your suggestions? Checking my field guide…

    1. Pine Grosbeak — oddly, not in my Stokes Field Guide (western region). From Google search: probably not, as they are more a red colour (definitely not flamingo pink)

    2. Mountain bluebird — possibly. But pink is not among their possible colours and my guidebook describes them as “sleek”, whereas I would call the look of these birds as “pudgy” or “rounder” in look.

    3. Mockingbird and Catbird are both possible, but the colours don’t match up.

    4. Waxwing – No.

    Not sure how else to describe them. The birds are all similar in every sense but colour, and yet the two coloured birds clearly don’t fit…

  3. Ange

    Keep in mind that photos of birds in guidebooks etc only capture a bird at a moment in time and there is great variation over the season in terms of intensity of colour. A bird will be brightly coloured at mating season but will fade and look like an entirely different bird in the fall before migration. As well, juvenile birds often have some interesting colouring and I’m sure you’re aware that females of the species are generally not as flamboyant as the males.

    And if you’re bird book doesn’t have Pine Grosbeak, then might I suggest investing in a different guide? I have the Audobon (spelling?) field guide which I like simply because there is a handy section of coloured photos that is organized according to colour. But Sibley’s Western North America guide is better in terms of information, and showing what birds might look like as juveniles, at different times of the season, male vs. female, and also what they look like in flight. Handy! He has also drawn or maybe painted the birds with fine attention to detail and the book is really just beautiful to look at.

  4. Marc Post author

    I saw the birds again this morning on the way to the library and Madeline says she sees them everyday on the way to the bus. I must remember to bring a camera with me tomorrow.

    The birds definitely look dove/pigeon-ish.

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