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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 03:43 PM

Mystery bird at New Mexico wildlife refuge stumps experts

Mystery bird at New Mexico wildlife refuge stumps experts
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
Associated PressAssociated Press
Posted: 11/30/2012 06:02:39 PM PST
December 1, 2012 2:3 AM GMTUpdated: 11/30/2012 06:02:39 PM PST

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Wildlife managers at one of the nation's premiere bird-watching spots have a mystery on their hands.

A strange-looking bird with dark plumage showed up at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month to join the tens of thousands of cranes and geese that spend the winter in the Rio Grande Valley.

The problem: No one knows exactly what kind of bird it is.

The debate has spread from the refuge's fields and wetlands onto Facebook, where guesses have ranged from some kind of mutant to a Thanksgiving turkey disguised as a crane for self-preservation. Birding experts from New York to California continued studying photographs of the bird Thursday, spurring even more theories.

The refuge posted a photograph of the bird on its Facebook page this week, sparking dozens of comments. Aside from the disguised turkey and oil-slicked bird theories, some suggested it could be a hybridization between a crane and an emu or a trumpeter, which are native to South America.

More:
http://www.montereyherald.com/rss/ci_22102288?source=rss

10 replies, 1992 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Reply Mystery bird at New Mexico wildlife refuge stumps experts (Original post)
Judi Lynn Dec 2012 OP
catbyte Dec 2012 #1
aquart Dec 2012 #2
dipsydoodle Dec 2012 #3
Judi Lynn Dec 2012 #9
DJ13 Dec 2012 #4
On the Road Dec 2012 #5
Warpy Dec 2012 #6
Yo_Mama Dec 2012 #7
freethought Dec 2012 #8
Yo_Mama Dec 2012 #10

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 03:46 PM

1. Nature is just a grab bag of cool.

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Response to catbyte (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 03:50 PM

2. +1

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 04:01 PM

3. I doubt its the bluebird of happiness

if its stuck there all alone.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:16 AM

9. Love that bluebird image. (You just never want to bother the bluebird of happiness.) n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 04:39 PM

4. It looks like the love child of a duck and a crane

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 06:29 PM

5. Perhaps It's an Immature Bird with Unusual Coloration, or a Lesser Sandhill Crane?

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site570/2012/1130/20121130__aa2.NM--MysteryBird]~1_GALLERY.jpg

The photo looks a lot darker and shaggier than the surrounding birds, but googling "immature sandhill crane" results in some hits which look a little more like the mystery photo.

http://www.somuchtocapture.com/Sandhill%20Crane%204%20(Large).jpg


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_9dEhQeJzXdg/TUMDiZzVpEI/AAAAAAAABV8/i6OK9OF_Z10/s400/Lesser+immature.jpg
Lesser Sandhill Cranes have shorter legs and bills.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 06:54 PM

6. Whatever it is, I love that conservators don't think it's

worth stressing the bird to do the blood and tissue samples necessary to determine what it is.

"That's so ugly we ought to just let it live" is an expression I've heard a lot in my life to justify something or someone already punished by nature to go in peace.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:34 PM

7. It's a sandhill crane

We have them on the farm in GA.

Youngish, it looks to be.

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Response to Yo_Mama (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:21 PM

8. I would agree.

The color is a bit of mystery though. Still looks like it still has some its immature down and it's darker. The darker color could easily be explained by a condition opposite of albanism, I forget the name of it though. I used to volunteer at a wild bird rehab facility where one of its permanent residents was a red-tailed hawk that was virtually black, except for the tail of course.

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Response to freethought (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:12 PM

10. I have seen a group of about 10 with about this coloration

Of course, that bird appears to be an awkward teenager.

I think he may have parasites and may have mudded himself up, but the head and neck look young. A lot of times they mud up deliberately. I think I've seen them doing it at the far ditch.

I didn't just make this up either:
http://www.savingcranes.org/sandhill-crane.html
In many areas, wild Sandhills preen iron-rich mud into their feathers creating a deep rusty brown hue which lasts during spring and summer. As fall advances, these rusty feathers molt and the birds return to their grayish appearance. In some regions, however, iron-rich mud is absent and the birds appear grey all year.


When they are mudding up they look hilariously floppy, lumpy and bedraggled. Not at all like the birds you see in the standard pics.

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