re Weird Hybrid

Joanne H. Powell jhpowell at
Wed Sep 6 06:21:26 PDT 2000

Good morning, Jack and all:

The speckled body color/pattern was why I thought it was a starling hybrid.
The plumage was exactly like the winter starling. The jizz was wrong for a
starling; the head was a light cocoa brown with no markings at all - just a
smooth even color. If you look at the head of a gila flicker with its clear
demarcation line between body and head you'll see what I mean. I was hoping
an ornithologist out there might be able to tell me if starlings ever
hybridize. I know how easy it is for the picture in your head to become
blurred after a few days so, for all I know, what I saw was a mutant
starling! Naturally there is supposed to be great weather the next few days
and on Saturday, the only day I can lurk in the shadows and try to get a
picture, it's supposed to rain! Arghh!! If I'm lucky I'll get a shot and
get the picture on line as soon as possible.

Regards, Joanne
Reardan (Spokane) WA
mailto: jhpowell at
-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Stephens <jsteph02 at>
To: Tweeters <tweeters at>; jhpowell at
<jhpowell at>
Date: Wednesday, September 06, 2000 4:17 AM
Subject: re Weird Hybrid

>Joanne Powell wrote:


>"Yesterday, for the second time, I saw a strangly plumaged flicker at the

>suet block. The first time I saw it, its jizz was flicker, but the glimpse

>was so short and the coloration so weird I decided that I had really seen a

>starling/brown-headed cowbird cross - if there is such a thing! This time I

>got a fairly long look but, of course, when I came back to the window with

>my camera the bird had flown. I sat in front of the window, hiding behind

>the curtains, for 3 hours but no luck. The bird had the body of a flicker

>(beak, feet and all). Its head was a medium brown (about the color of

>instant cocoa) - solid, no markings at all. The body was dark and speckled

>with lighter spots. There was a bronze-irridescent cast to the body


>Very similar to a starlings breeding plumage. I am very familiar with

>flickers around here and have seen a lot of red/yellow flicker hybrids in

>various plumages but this was too weird! I really hope someone has seen or

>heard of something like this. I have never seen anything like it and will

>try to get a picture. It's difficult to get home while it's still light

>during the week. Boy, work sure cuts into the important things in life!"


>I would vote for an immature Starling. The cocoa-brown color is right, as

>well as the iridescence of the plumage, and the big beak can give a

>"flicker-like" jizz to the bird.



>Jack Stephens

>Ellen O'Neill-Stephens

>Edmonds, WA

><jsteph02 at>


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