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James Tyrrell


James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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on What Bird is This? #2

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This is definitely a juvenile whydah (thought it was a lesser honeyguide for a split second until I saw the beak). Which species it is exactly is more tricky. At the moment, I’d have to go with pin-tailed whydah (though it could be shaft-tailed).

It is a female Cuckoo Finch.

Is it a common stonechat?

I am not a bird expert but like all the birds recently shown on the Blog, it has natures beauty from head to toe.

Senior Digital Ranger

it looks like a willow warbler , but the beak is more of a finch I would think

Lekker tough one! I’d say juvenile Long-tailed Paradise Whydah because of the pink at the base of the bill.

It looks like the house finches we have here in Florida.

Digital Ranger

Hi James
I do believe its a Steel- Blue Wydah.

Definitely not easy especially because one cannot see the back of the specimen. I have four possibilities – All Females: Red Collared Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Black winged Red Bishop or Blackheaded Canary. Not being a true birder I will leave the final decision with those with more knowledge. Thanks for the challenge.

Juvenile Common Waxbill?

Female Lemonbreasted Canary

I would say a juvenile bronze mannikin but oh my, that fork tail and small wattle ?

This is a wild guess, but I am going with a non-breeding red-headed quelea.

Juvenile Village Indigobird

Is it a House Finch?

I thought it was a juvenile black-rumped waxbill (before the red appears), but I’d probably go with a juvenile pin tailed whydah. There’s a pin stripe coming off the back of the eye.

Hi James,
What a lovely story! It’s not easy to be an expert!
It’s a lot of expectations… This was indeed tricky! But it is a lovely way to learn more about birds! It could be that the beautiful bird on your blog, her father is a Southern Boubou (she has got her chest feathers from him) and her mother is a yellow Canary (got her head and bill from her)! Well you got the answer… I have to wait until Friday… I wounder who she is… Thank you for a very funny and demanding challenge!

I’ll give it a wild guess – a juvenile Madagascar Mannikin

I would say a young female Village Indigo bird – But that marking at the base of the beak is confusing.

Hi James,
Ian here rather than Karin.
Good luck was good advice!!
The only thing that I am certain about is that the bird is recently fledged or at worst still juvenile.
Largely based on the white tubercles at the base of the bill (with just a touch of red) I am going with a recently fledged Whydah but the question is Pin-tailed or Shaft-tailed. Both have the white tubercles at the base of the bill but only the Shaft-tailed has reddish feet, so despite Londos appearing to be on the edge of the range and despite having personally never seen a Violet-eared Waxbill at Londos and the preferred habitat being less than a perfect fit I am going for Shaft-tailed Whydah. Second choice would be Pin-tailed Whydah which fits the host species and habitat better and is plentiful at Londos but has black or at best brown feet. Maybe they too like the bill are black when just fledged.

James after two days of speculation and research we came to the conclusion that it might be a Lark like Bunting. It is not a common or regular visitor to the Londolozi area. They are found more to the north of Kruger and sometimes around Satara/Orpen. So more to the north of Sabi Sands. I am however not ruling the Cuckoo Finch out.

After more research we can now positively say that it is a Lark-like Bunting.

An evening grospeak.

Digital Ranger

James, I have been on leave since this post came out and it has been a fascinating discussion point in our house hold since, I have woken up to my mother scanning through “Birds of Botswana” with great fervour to coming home at night from a local wine tasting to hearing my parents discussing if it could be a lark or a finch of sorts. This discussion has even branched out to my friends at a “braai” around the corner. I’ve even had input from a tracker from the Bella-Bella region around Warmbaths. And while I wait in great anticipation for the answer tomorrow (just so that I can get a good sleep in on Saturday) and whilst I’m leaning towards the lark-like bunting which one or two others have thrown in, I have a wild card or two I’d like to chuck in, before closure at 12am:
1. Juvenile village indigo bird
2. Streaky-headed canary / seed eater

Put us out of our misery please….

Having never studied Birds from this continent, I would guess a house sparrow. The coloration above the eye is a trade mark.

Hi Robert,

Check out https://blog.londolozi.com/2018/10/26/the-week-in-pictures-358/ for the answer.

It was a tough bird to get!
Best regards

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