I noticed these birds a couple of times in the thick intertwined rose branches above the neighbors' fence but didn't get a chance to look closer. It seemed to me that the birds were sitting there, each holding a small leaf in its beak. What a strange fashion!
But last autumn the neighbors cut all their rose bushes and the fence became empty. Recently I was washing dishes in front of the window facing the side yard when all of a sudden a string of funny fat birds busily marched on the edge of the fence before my eyes. It was my mysterious birds with the leaves in their beaks!
I grabbed my camera and rushed to the backyard. The birds had already done their parade and were now placing themselves on branches of the tall tree nearby. I started moving very slowly, freezing now and then when one of them looked at me suspiciously. Now I was close enough to take pictures and see more details. The funny "leaves" turned out to be little black feathers hanging from their heads. How they didn't become cross-eyed with the constant dangling in front of their faces, I don't know.
One plump fellow:)
They turned their backs to me but kept to be very suspicious. I was moving in small increments when they didn't look and was standing still and shooting when they were looking back.
#3 I think males have bigger and nicer feathers above the beak. The females' feathers look like they have a bad haircut.
Doesn't it look like fish scales?