Last week I gave you this mystery bird as my 350th specimen for identification:
It wasn’t particularly easy, although that oddly preserved crest did help narrow it down.
As Wouter van Gestel pointed out, the general shape of the bird, particularly the legs and sternum, suggest that it’s a passerine. There are quite a lot of crested passerines, from Crested Tits to Crested Jays, but the bill shape on this specimen only matches a few.
Bob Church worked it out and left a nice cryptic clue:
Well, I could be wrong and might bomb this one, but perhaps if I wax poetic, I could wing it a bit.
Taking bomb, wax and wing clearly relates to the waxwings in the genus Bombycilla.
For the full species definition there was a response on Twitter from the Scarborough Museums Trust Collections Team:
“Chattering silk-tail” is a direct translation of the scientific name Bombycilla garrulus – which is spot on!
They get their common name from the waxy red tips on their secondary feathers and their ‘Bohemian’ lifestyle – in the 19th Century sense of them being wanderers. They migrate thousands of miles and have a huge distribution across the Northern Hemisphere.
I find their silky plumage and rich but quite blended colouring particularly beautiful – something that is a bit lacking in the mystery specimen.
Paolo, were those residual feathers glued back on after the skeleton was cleaned, or are they especially resilient?
in california the cedars are seasonal, but despite san francisco’s lurid history, the bohemian variety are much less common.
Excellent. here in the US we call them Bohemian Waxwings.
Ooops. I’d never expect a Bohemian waxwing crest to look like that. Oh, well.
An older usage of the word “Bohemian” in which it was equivalent to “Gypsy”: two different, equally wrong, guesses as to the geographical origins of the Roma.