Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # O-2020-02

Common name:

Possible Bendire's Thrasher x
   Northern Mockingbird  hybrid

Scientific name: Taxostoma bendirei x Mimus polyglottos
Date: 30 May 2018
Time: 2:15 PM
Length of time observed:  
Number: 1
Location: Middleton Wash (Between Mall and Black Rigde)
County: Washington
Distance to bird:  
Optical equipment:  
Light Conditions:  
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Originally ID'd as a really odd northern mockingbird in the field. Then a few days later, I was convinced by another birder whose opinion I greatly respect that this was a Bendire's thrasher. However, the structure and the complete lack of markings on the underparts seemed very unusual for a BETH. After submitting to ebird as a BETH, I was notified that this bird was flagged by somebody as a potential BETH X NOMO hybrid.

Months later, I posted photos of this bird to the 'Advanced Bird ID' facebook page, where I received a range of different opinions. Most commenters stated that it probably cannot be a "pure" Bendire's due to overall structure of bird, plus white wing patches. Some stated that it may just be a NOMO with a pigment aberration. However, others brought to attention the seemingly stout bill, which looks a bit off for a NOMO.

Maybe the most interesting comment was by Chris Benesh (Tucson, AZ birder). His comment:

"this hybrid combination [referring to NOMO X BETH] has occurred in captivity at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum back in the late 1980's. Somewhere in the dark recesses of slide boxes I've got a couple of pictures of it. And it did look a lot like this bird combining features of both species. Not sure if it would happen in the wild however. The attached image is from McCarthy's Avian Hybrids of the World."

I told him I'd love to see his photos of that bird if he is ever able to dig them up. I've attached Chris's photo from the publication that he referenced.

(Click on photo to see larger version).

Also of note, Kenn Kaufman responded, stating that he remembers the Desert Museum hybrid mentioned by Chris, and that the bird looked similar to the one in my photos. He also said that "Bendire's X N Mockingbird certainly looks like the most plausible ID for this bird."

So, this was either a very odd northern mockingbird, or a hybrid that has never been previously documented in the wild. There is probably no way to ever know for sure, but it's an interesting bird nonetheless.

This bird was observed in an area I've birded several times now while getting my oil changed at nearby Sunrise Tire. It's a very small riparian zone with a few large cottonwood trees and some thick reeds. The banks of this area are studded with some thick mesquite and other desert shrubs as you go upslope towards Middleton Black Ridge.

Song or call & method of delivery:  
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
References consulted:  
Description from:  
Observer: Mike Schijf
Observer's address:  
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: submitted 23 Jun 2020
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: eBird checklist: