Mystery Bird

Can any of you birders out there help with identifying this bird?
She  (I’m assuming it’s a she) was perched near the feeders today but I didn’t see her eating. She’s really pretty with those black wing patches and dark bill. She’s about the size of a female cowbird, which was what I thought she was at first.

Thanks for all the input. “She” is a “he” – a juvenile male Brown-headed Cowbird molting into adult plumage. Those very distinct wing patches certainly had me stumped.



Linking to
Wild Bird Wednesday
Nature Notes


23 Comments on “Mystery Bird”

  1. andy1076 says:

    What a beautiful bird too 🙂

  2. Jim says:

    I looked in my book of ‘eastern birds’ and there is no sign of anything close to this one, Pat. I am not a birder but immediately thought of a Sparrow but the beak and forehead is wrong. Have you had any recent storms in your area? It may have been ‘blown in’ by one from a faraway location in the US. It happens here on occasion.

  3. TexWisGirl says:

    it might be a juvenile brown-headed cowbird. my bird book showed one similar to this w/ the dark wing patches. when i googled them, i found this one…

    (Juvenile) Brown-headed Cowbird 5

  4. neihtn2012 says:

    I am not a birder either, but it may be a female cow bird. The following page has a photo which looks like your second one:

  5. Lisa Gordon says:

    I wish I could help out here, Pat, but I have honestly never seen a bird like this.
    The coloring and markings are just beautiful.

  6. Hi Pat! We are in Missouri so I looked at our Birds of Missouri Field Guide and both my husband and I vote for a juvenile Scarlet Tanager, we can’t decide if it’s a male or female.. just our guess. The wings look pale pinkish red to me and look yellowish to CH.. Ha!

  7. Brian King says:

    Possibly an immature Brown-headed Cowbird as others have mentioned. Juvenile males have the black areas when they molt in late summer.

  8. Felicia says:

    have no idea but she’s very pretty

  9. Mick says:

    Great photo of a beautiful little bird – no matter what her name may be!

  10. Margaret says:

    well that is a lovely and interesting bird. people seem a bit divided as to what it is.

  11. I would say that is juvenile plumage. Check out the cow bird in a younger stage of development.

  12. Gunilla says:

    Beautiful shots! I’m glad you got an id on him.

  13. Glad Tex had the answer for you!…:)JP

  14. Robin says:

    Pat, glad you got lots of help to identify this bird. He is quite handsome!

  15. geanina says:

    beautiful images! 🙂

  16. janicead says:

    Nice capture. Great to have this blog to have folks help with mysteries!

  17. miyahde says:

    Oh, really adorable and elegant bird♫♫♫ Great that Tex helped you identify!
    Sincerely from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

  18. So glad you got a definitive ID on this bird. I’ve never seen a juvie cowbird so I was stumped too! He is really pretty and your photos are sharp and beautifully composed.

  19. Marie says:

    He’s a cutie! Those juvenile birds always confuse me too!

  20. Rohrerbot says:

    Love these birds. Apparently they are common around the bird feeders for many but I’ve yet to find one here. Congrats! Cool bird and I especially love their call.

  21. glad you got the name. 🙂

  22. We’ve had several young cowbirds here with their foster parents…. Michelle

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