Goleta Beach blackbird

Dave Compton

Hi everyone,

I wanted to provide an update on the bird initially reported several days ago as a Tricolored Blackbird at Goleta Beach. Now, this is not so rare a species in the county that it would normally merit a ton of discussion on this list. But it is pretty darn rare on the south coast at this time of year. That said, a few additional people looking at various photos of the bird are not convinced it's a Red-winged Blackbird, which I firmly stated it was the other day.

There were several photos of the bird in addition to the one Dika included in her Flickr account the other day, including several posted in eBird. At the moment, those are all in eBird as "Red-winged Blackbird." Adrian O'Loghlen also photographed the bird. Because it appears to have features of both species, some of these features appear to vary by photo, and the bird is undergoing molt, the opinion of knowledgeable observers who've weighed in is that it should be considered of unknown species. Therefore, I hope those who entered the bird in eBird as a Red-winged Blackbird will change it to "Red-winged/Tricolored Blackbird." Also, it's possible this won't be the last word on this individual, if it's spotted again.

To make the change I've suggested, you'll have to select the "Add species" option in eBird, begin typing the name as I have above, and then select the option "Red-winged/Tricolored Blackbird" when it comes up.

Incidentally, characters that different people have assessed differently while looking at these photos include the tone of red in the wing, the whiteness of the patch in the wing, evidence of whether the "white" area is faded, and the shape of the bill (which should be longer and narrower in Tricolored).

This bird has provided a learning experience for some people who know a fair amount about birds. We usually think separating the males is not hard. But sometimes, doing it based on photos, even good photos, evidently can be a challenge.

Dave Compton
Santa Barbara

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