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Not only do we all make mistakes in identifying birds. Some very, very good 
birders make them. And some of the mistakes reasonably competent birders 
like myself make are whoppers.

The biggest mistake I ever made was to call a flying fish an Audubon's 
Shearwater. There are some similarities in jizz, I suppose. Both glide on 
stiff wings. Both are dark on top and light underneath. But I should have 
known that when shearwaters hit the water after a glide, they usually don't 
wiggle their tails as they go in and then stay under for good.

But I have seen better birders make even bigger mistakes than I have made. 
When I attended the Audubon Camp on Hog Island, Maine in 1957, we were told 
that one of our field trip leaders had "one of the best birding ears in the 
Eastern U.S." Yet he misidentified a mooing cow as a calling Common Loon!

After the foregoing, I'll never say "tsk, tsk" when I suspect someone may 
have called a Red-shoulder a Broadwing in Missouri in January. Also. I've 
seen a Cape May in Kansas City in January. Why not a Broad-winged Hawk?

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
[log in to unmask] 

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