Bird ID

by Kris Beach
(Port Charlotte, Florida)

I took this picture of a bird in my backyard in Port Charlotte, FL. He looks like a Yellow Rumped Warbler but think he's too big to be one. Any idea?


Comments for Bird ID

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May 15, 2013

HOLA Your bird is without a doubt a Yellow Wagtail pretty common this side of the POND UK.CONGRATS.ON PICTURE BRILL.Hasta luago From sunny Spain[not quite at moment in middle of electric storm with HAIL!!!]ATB ADIOS EL DIABLO.

Mar 11, 2013
More info LOL
by: GaryE

So now the next question for me is "Are Eastern Yellow Wagtail's sold as pets?". I did a google search and I found a free electronic version of a book (with no copyright date) which does suggest that Eastern Yellow Wagtail's have been kept as pets -- the fact that it is available for free indicates to me that the book must be at least 75 years old but that is the only indication I have that they have *ever* been available as house pets -- the link is going to be very long but here it is if anyone is interested ( So we have a bird over 5,000 miles from its natural habitat which *may* have been sold as a pet 75 years ago LOL. I would like much better proof than that.

It must be an Eastern Yellow Wagtail but I can not begin to comprehend how it got to *South* Florida. LOL

Mar 09, 2013
no problem!
by: GaryE

LOL no problem . . . I am a "teach a person to fish" kind of guy and I had a lot of fun trying to track it down! If someone else learns how to hunt down a bird from my ramblings (or someone can help me hunt down birds better) that is all good stuff!

Good luck spotting it again! Any way you look at it you have a bird that is more than extremely rare in your neck of the woods LOL and that is a cool thing!

Twice a year my wife and I get a "free" guided walk with a bunch of PhD birding experts as part of our membership to a birding research/out reach/bird guiding group associated with the Smithsonian/National Zoo. I am definitely going to bookmark this page and bring along my wife's iPad to the next walk and see if any of the 3 or 5 or 10 (depending upon how many people show up) PhD expert guides that lead us around can come up with a better explanation/identification -- but do not hold your breath the next walk I think is still 2 or so months away. But these guys are amazing they can identify birds by just hearing 2 notes of their song at over 100 yards -- it is crazy exciting going out with them.

Mar 09, 2013
by: Anonymous

I looked at my previous comment and half of it made it and half did not.
Anyway I wanted to thank Gary for all your research. I like to sit outside early in the morning and in the evening with my camera. I hope he returns and maybe I'll get lucky again. Usually new birds hand around for a day or two then move on. I love doing what I'm doing especially in this 75 degree weather!

Mar 09, 2013
by: Anonymous

So he could be an escaped pet. I'm going to spend time out with my camera again (I usually do) in my back yard and watch and wait. I hope he returns. Gary thank you so much for all the research. It's very interesting!

Mar 09, 2013
Yeah it is looks like a wagtail alright
by: GaryE

Well Judy my go to book (national Audubon Society Field guide to North American Birds) which organizes birds by color rather than type does not have yellow or grey wagtails in it AT ALL. Which explains how I missed it LOL

My other book, which we just got for Christmas, (National Geographic field Guide to the Birds of North America) is not organized in a way I am used to and I completely botched it LOL

It looks a lot like an Eastern Yellow Wagtail . . . however according to the National Geographic book they only appear withing about 100 miles or so of the West and or North coast of Alaska and Siberia so for that bird to be in Florida . . . in the winter it is only about what 5,000 miles from its natural habitat. Which would mean it is an escaped pet or something equally as strange. Either way I do not think a bird that typically lives in Western Alaska and Siberia is going to last long in the heat of Florida. Also take a look at the eye mask of Kris' bird. The mask shown in the National Geographic book that I have is quite different. So I am thinking that it is not an Eastern Yellow Wagtail but something else very similar.

The next step for me is to go to the Cornell site ( and look for similar species. Well I did that and they do not have a bird guide/identification page for the Eastern Yellow Wagtail or the Grey wagtail. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! I mean I love a good research project but this is getting nuts LOL

Ok I did a google search and came up with a page which has a picture of a female breeding Eastern Yellow Wagtail which matches Kris' picture exactly (
Eastern_Yellow_Wagtail.aspx). That site also has a similar bird feather like the Cornell site and none of the similar birds are a close enough match. The head does match the yellow breasted Chat which would more likely be in Florida (Northern Florida anyhow) but the wing color and markings are completely different so that is a no go.

There is a wiki page for the Eastern yellow wagtail that gives more detailed habitat information ( ). It says they do go a far South as Australia so my argument that Florida is too hot is moot. The bottom line is that Kris is so far from the normal habitat that the only logical explanation is an escaped pet or a bird that is 1/3 to 1/2 a world away from its natural habitat. I hate that explanation . . . but let us face it it is the only explanation that fits the best I can tell LOL

(more to follow I went over 3000 words LOL)

Mar 09, 2013
Eastern Yellow Wagtail?
by: Kris

Thanks Judy. He sure does look like an Eastern Yellow Wagtail.

Mar 08, 2013
by: Judy-Seattle

I have also looked through my bird books. It's long tail is very distinctive. I think it resembles the Wagtail group of birds. However, I don't know if they are found in Florida. It looks a lot like either the Yellow or the Grey Wagtail. What do you think Gary?

Mar 08, 2013
Not a yellow rumped warbler
by: GaryE

Ok Well I do not know exactly what it is and I have looked pretty hard . . . but it is clearly not a yellow rumped warbler. Check out:

Pay particular attention to the black eye "mask" that your bird has and couple that with the predominately yellow breast of your bird . . . neither of those are features of a yellow rumped warbler.

The only thing that looks vaguely similar in my bird books is a variant of the golden-winged Warbler called a Brewster's Warbler. But it is much smaller than your bird, the colors do not match, the tail on your bird is too long, and it is a pretty rare bird . . but the eye mask is very similar. So sorry I can not be of more help but all I can say for sure is that it is not a yellow rumped warbler.

Good Luck!


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