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Mark — April 15, 01:20AM

Bird I can't identify in my backyard

I live in Houston, TX, very close to one of the many bayous that run through the city. I watch birds in my backyard during the FeederWatch months. During the last two weekends in March I saw a bird that I had never seen before - two of them on March 23/24 and one on March 31. I entered them as Eastern Towhees the first week, but the second week, it flew to the birdbath, which is closer to the window I watch from and I got a better look.

The bird is small: towhee or junco size. It is smaller than a House Sparrow, which are common around here. It spent most of the time foraging in the grass, so I mostly saw the head and top of the body until it flew to the birdbath and I could see it's stomach. The bird has a black "executioner's hood - a completely black head that extends a bit down the neck. The body and wings are brown/rust. The beak is definitely not thick like a finch's - much more like a sparrow.

Now here's the kicker that made me doubt my initial ID: the stomach is spotted black and white. If I had to choose, I'd say white with black spots, but it was pretty equal in black/white color distribution. After extensive searches in books and on online, the two birds that look the most similar are the Oregon Junco and the Spotted Towhee, but neither has the spotted stomach that was so definite.

Any ideas? Thanks!

Krista — April 15, 09:43AM

Mark, you should try the ABA Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/whatsthisbird/
Good luck!

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