Unusual Bird report from Sumner, Chch

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Location: Christchurch

Unusual Bird report from Sumner, Chch

Postby andrewcrossland » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:40 pm

Hi folks,

I received an email last night about 2 birds seen and photographed by a lady with a phone camera on Sunday 7 April. They were dark, bluish birds, with white throats and on impression were judged to be slightly larger than a kingfisher. The location was the corner of Augusta and Taupata Streets in Redcliffs, CHCH. No-one has been to the area yet to look.

I passed them around a few local experts and the conclusion was starlings, with camera aberrations causing the iridescent throat patch of one bird to appear white.

But, as the observer wrote, the birds looked strange to the eye so logically the features that made a group of walkers stop, look up and take note were real and not just camera effects. We then considered some form of albinism but on further questioning (via email this afternoon) the observer said that both birds had white throats, which would be a pretty big coincidence if it were albinism or related things:

So, while the most likely explanation is just a couple of abberrant starlings, here's the images and descriptive info cut and pasted. I have the observers name, ph number and email address but in respect of her privacy I'll not post them here. She's promised to call me 24/7 if she sees them again, so I'll put out an alert if opinion considers them something other than starlings:

bird3.JPG (24.83 KiB) Viewed 549 times

bird2.JPG (23.28 KiB) Viewed 549 times

bird1.JPG (29.08 KiB) Viewed 549 times

This is the info received:

"Hi Andrew

This is an enquiry regarding a pair of birds.

I was walking back from Scarborough on Sunday morning and noticed 2 birds on an overhead wire near my home in Augusta st, Redcliffs. Neither my friend nor I had any idea what they were and neither has anyone else that I've shown the photos to. I had a native Kingfisher nesting in the large palm tree in my garden and was lucky enough to see a wee baby one on probably its maiden flight! The birds on the wire were very slightly bigger than the Kingfishers and a dark grey/blue colour.

I hope you can solve this mystery!"

On Sunday morning they were just on the wire above us, on the corner of Augusta and Taupata Streets.and both definitely had what I would call a white throat. As I mentioned, they were very slightly bigger than the wee Kingfisher and were what I would describe as a dark grey with a slightly blue cast. I only have the wee camera on my iPhone 5 and as I didn't recognise them, thought I'd take a photo so I could ask around. No-one in my Tuesday walking group were sure but one or two suggested Starlings but that i should contact you for clarification.
Sorry, I forgot to say that the white throat was very obvious and that's what made me take the photo as I'd not seen any birds like that here before.
I've just googled Starlings NZ and their throat is nothing like those on the two I saw. It really was a definite off white and I would say very approximately around one and a quarter inches going towards the chest.
A final missive! Both birds had the same white throat, Neither seemed to have the speckled feathers like the ones I've just looked at.

People's thoughts??
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Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:33 pm

Re: Unusual Bird report from Sumner, Chch

Postby wazzagonewild » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:14 pm

Agreed that they're probably starlings, but it's only 100 m from my house so will go for a wee walk first thing in the morning...
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:33 pm

Re: Unusual Bird report from Sumner, Chch

Postby wazzagonewild » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:30 am

I didn't see anything unusual this morning. There was a small flock of around 7 starlings, but none that looked unusual. However, I'll keep checking the area over the next few days and let you know if I find anything else.

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