What was that Bird?

OK folks – here’s a little challenge for you on a gray west coast Sunday. It’s time to crack open those bird books and see if you can figure out what bird this is. Post a comment below with the field marks that you used to help you identify the bird. I’ll post a couple of better photos (which show the entire bird in 48 hours) and provide a species profile (including common field marks to look for).

Mystery Bird
Making the plunge – what was that bird?!?
Mystery Bird Feet
And down it goes!

The photographs were taken last week (February 8, 2011) at Fanny Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia and while the bird can be seen on both fresh and salt water this bird was photographed on salt water. Wish I had a prize to give away but with Canada Post rates being so high it would probably cost more to ship anything that the cost of the item itself. As a result, your reward is simply bragging rights!

If you’re interested in more bird related posts check out I and the Bird, edition #144 hosted by Greg Laden’s Blog on February 17th. FYI – Island Nature will be hosting I and the Bird on March 3, 2011! Send me an email with your birding post!

I and the Bird


  1. OK, I am in – how about a grebe? Perhaps a horned grebe? Not really based on much, since I am useless at IDing birds, but it is obviously a diving bird, and I do know that grebes dive. And that is the extent of my reasoning.

  2. Hi Dave
    I’m going to go with a Barrow’s Goldeneye — I think a 1st winter male. Why do I think that — well, because it would be just cruel to make it a female of either Barrow’s or Common — they are both pretty similar.

    I selected Barrow’s because of the smaller white bars on the scapulars. Also, I “think” I can see a faint white crescent in the underwater shot (probably wishful thinking).

    I also recognize the tail-feather spread and the bright orange legs well back on the body.

    I think it is a 1st year male because of the speckling on the bar that goes down to divide the breaks from the sides (another reason for me to select Barrow’s over Common)


  3. Rank amateur here, but I’ll take a shot. I see a white ring around the neck with some smudginess in it. I see a dark colored head. Maybe there is a light spot on the cheeks under the eye in the second photo, but not sure about that. In the second photo the head is a bit puffed looking. We are now in Bufflehead/Goldeneye territory, I think. The white bands at the edge of the wing would make it one of the Goldeneyes. I believe the one most likely seen on Vancouver Island is the Common Goldeneye, and this a first winter male. Then, of course, I could be totally wrong. I look forward to the other pictures. Thanks.

  4. Pingback: Island Nature :: What was that Bird? #2

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