More than just this birds face is hidden.
I am so bad at bird identification. Thirty years ago, when I was a regular birder, I thought I was pretty good. But now that I am again trying to pay attention, I see that I am awful. I have so much difficulty distinguishing between similar species.
Names are important. We want to know the name of birds we see. to do so adds to our "mastery" The more skill we have, the more names we know. That sentence can be reversed because to make it more of an ego thing: The more names we know, the more skill we (must) have.
I see more to it than that, though. Knowing the name gives us a reference point, a common language that we use to learn more about the bird from others. Knowing this brilliant blue bird is an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) helps me discuss it with other birders and lets me look it up online or in books.
This is the first Indigo bunting we have had in our yard in many years. I used to be familiar with it and its call, but I have forgotten most of what I have known. This one seemed bigger than I remembered. I wanted it to be a Blue grosbeak. It wasn't. I just didn't know.
I read my books (I need a better one). The photos on my phone app are horrible, more like a picture from a coloring book. My identification book said the Blue grosbeak had obvious buff wing bars. What does "obvious" mean? I could see buff wing bars - they are right there at the top of its wings, aren't they? But are they "obvious?" Evidently not.
I know that if I had both birds side-by-side I could tell which was which. I would know the grosbeak to be bigger with a much bigger bill and more "obvious" wing bars but these comparatives only work when there is more than one bird. If I had previously seen a Blue grosbeak I would know this wasn't one.
So, yes, knowing the name shows skill that comes with experience. Experience would have told me that this was Passerina cyanea, Indigo Bunting. But even experience isn't as good as friendship. My friends on facebook identified it for me. I was finally convinced when Julie Zickefoose kindly dispelled my thoughts of grosbeaks.
I am happy with the Indigo bunting. In fact there are more. Friday, as I spread mulch, two barely missed me as they chased each other out of the woods into my garden. I'm glad that when they flew by I knew who they were.