Apparent Blackbird x Fieldfare hybrid

Apparent Blackbird x Fieldfare hybrid

Being on the edge of the Humber Estuary, and just over a mile north of Spurn, my garden in Kilnsea, Yorkshire, is ideally situated for attracting both common and scarce migrants. On 28th October 2023, I received a message from my son Thomas asking about the identification of a bird on one of the trail cams we have placed in the garden. He had taken a screenshot from video footage recorded on 26th October showing a thrush that he was not able to identify (plates 252–255). I was equally unable to put a name to it. I called Lance Degnan and Jacob Spinks, and we looked through the two videos of the bird, totalling 27 seconds of footage. As it was not a species that any of us recognised, we suspected that the bird must be a hybrid of some sort. Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus was mooted as one of the potential parent species, given the extensive scaling below and the bold facial features. However, we would have expected there to be more rufous-orange in the wings and a more extensive supercilium if one of the parents was a Dusky Thrush – though, admittedly, there was a degree of guesswork and extrapolation in imagining what a theoretical hybrid might look like. We were, however, quite confident of the other parent: the bird was reminiscent of a Fieldfare T. pilaris, with its head and rump being greyer than the brown mantle, a dark tail and a subtle ochre wash to the breast sides.

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