Thanks for posting this Doug, it is very interesting to hear what Peter had
to say about it. I do see what you're talking about though with the slight
blueish tinge in the nape area.
Good point regarding bid info as well


On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 8:16 PM Doug Gochfeld <> wrote:

> While the specifics below directly pertain to one individual vagrant, the
> overall take home message should be valuable to anybody who tries to
> classify natural organisms.
> This winter’s incursion of Painted Buntings into the region has brought
> delight to many New York birders. All three of the lingering Long Island
> individuals are green. The bunting that was found at Brooklyn Bridge Park
> by Heather Wolf in late December has been seen by hundreds of people at
> this point, and eBirded perhaps a couple of hundred times.
> Of those reports, many have comments regarding the age or sex of the bird,
> and of these, a not-insignificant portion refer to the bird with certainty
> as a female and a an immature male, virtually none of which have any
> discussion as to why it is being classified as such.
> In January, I E-Mailed Peter Pyle some photos, to see if he could make
> sense of it. He sent me a detailed analysis, which I have pasted as the
> bottom of this E-Mail, but the concise version is this: *The bird IS an
> immature (hatched in 2019). It CANNOT, in its current plumage, be visually
> identified to sex*, and it seems most likely that it is a young male (as
> so many vagrants are) if he had to guess.
> On that note, and given that eBird reports become a part of the permanent
> record, it would be great if the comments, when people look back years from
> now, were not just consistent, but accurate. Rather than having the very
> careful and earnest eBird moderators (a wholly volunteer and typically
> thankless job), in this case Sean and Shane, whom many of you know, reach
> out to every single person who writes “female” or "_ male" in the comments,
> it would be great if those reporting the bird going forward make comments
> that reflect only the highest level of certainty, rather than assumptions
> or guesswork. Also, if you have gone to see the bunting, please also check
> your prior observations to see if your comments can use some amending.
> In the meantime, the young Painted Bunting does indeed continue at
> Brooklyn Bridge Park, seemingly becoming more acclimated to passers by as
> time goes on. Here are some photos and video of it from a couple of days
> ago, where it seems, though it may be my imagination, that there are some
> brighter green feathers and a bluish tinge starting to appear around the
> nape:
> *Full text from Peter Pyle:*
> *"So you are correct, this is a first-winter bird (SY now). The rectrices
> have been replaced during the preformative molt, so shape and condition
> of these are no longer useful for ageing. However, you can see molt limits
> in the remiges indicating an "eccentric" preformative molt, which
> confirms SY. It looks like p5-p9 and s5-s9 or s6-s9 have been replaced
> leaving p1-p4 and s1-s4 or s1-s5 as juvenile. I can't quite decide on s5 in
> the photos you sent but the limit is easiest to see on image 3563 between
> the green tertials/s6 and  the browner s1-s4. The limit in the primaries
> is also subtle here but seems to be between p4 and p5.So, reliable sexing
> in formative plumage is not really possible, but its brightness and
> the relatively big bill suggests male to me. If it winters, keep an eye out
> for some blue and/or red featherd to come in within the next 4
> months. These would probably be accidentally lost and replaced feathers
> rather than molt. If it gets away without replacing any feathers like this,
> best to leave it as sex unknown.Hope this helps and feel free to re-post
> these comments."*
> Good Birding,
> -Doug Gochfeld. Brooklyn, NY.
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