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Q&A

What is this black and white bird with thin brown legs and a multi-colored beak, found in Massachusetts USA in January?

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I live in the central region of Massachusetts, United States.

Last January we found this lovely bird eating suet in our suburban back yard. It's in a section of about ten feeders, mostly in the shade of a few evergreen trees. I've looked through my backyard bird guides and haven't seemed to find anything close enough to make a confident identification.

Since it was here in January, it might be something that overwinters here. However, some migrators pass through during the winter, so that might be a wrong assumption. Also, we had unusually warm weather during January and February, so that could have thrown off a migration schedule. We don't recall having seen it before and couldn't find it in pictures of our yard in the past few years.

Frequently birds this size scare smaller birds away from the suet, but that's not the case here. At first I thought it was just docile and they weren't scared, which might be true. However, I've been looking very closely at the two small ones, which are best seen in the bottom picture. They also have dark around the eyes and long skinny legs, so I wonder if this might be an adult male or female with babies who haven't grown into their adult colors. I could be completely wrong, though. It's all part of what makes bird identification difficult, and fun!

Notable physical characteristics:

  • Very dark eyes with black area around them
  • Long skinny brown legs, shown best holding onto suet in top picture
  • Multi-colored beak, with white closest to the face, then a small orange/brown section, and black at the tip
  • Small specks of white on head and parts of neck
  • Sections of white gradually getting larger along the lower part of the body
  • Scallop-shaped tail of black feathers with white around the edges
  • Long thin wings which are mostly brown with light colored stripes

best view, including long leg holding suet enter image description here enter image description here Good view of underside of tail enter image description here Sharing suet with small bird

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/16308. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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1 answer

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It looks like a Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), which are quite common over here in the UK.

enter image description here

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/starling/

Starlings love suet.

Search for "Starling murmuration" and go to videos, in the UK & Ireland this is a common site in the winter - Try https://www.wired.com/2011/11/starling-flock/ (nb: best viewed at the size on the web page, rather than made full screen)

enter image description here

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This post was sourced from https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/16310. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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