Birding in British Columbia

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 Post subject: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 07 10:59 am 
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Location: Coast Salish Territory
Having approximately 932 juncos on my lawn every day I've noticed their colours vary a lot. I just recently learned the dark eyed junco is divided into multiple sub-species but it's so tough to id the differences. Even varying websites cannot agree, or even mention all subspecies. Considering how inconsistent the info is, there could be more sub-species I have yet to discover...

so if anyone knows of a reliable consistent site to recommend that'd be helpful... or if you know a key difference to look for on the junco itself.

One distinguishing feature that I haven't found any mention of, is the light brown mohawk on a grey head of the junco... is this familiar to anyone?

It seems to me that I have all three species here (in South Langley) but cannot find the info to determine the truth. The truth will set me free. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 07 1:00 pm 
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Seperating Dark-eyed Juncos into subspecies is generally thought to be too difficult in the field to even attempt, and can be a challenge even in the hand. This is probably one of the reasons that there is little information out there.

Because of these difficulties, most will simply seperate them into "morphs", such as "Oregon", "Slate-colored", or "Pink-sided".

In BC, there are four subspecies that occur here regularly;
Junco hyemalis cismontanus (Slate-colored type, found east of the Rockies)
J.h. oreganus (Oregon type, found along the central and northern coast)
J.h. shufeldti (Oregon type, found on the southern coast)
J.h. (Oregon type found throughout the interior, west of the Rockies)

Pyle's "Identification Guide to North American Birds" would probably be your best bet for specific information on subspecies, but even it isn't really going to be of much help in the field.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC


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 Post subject: Re: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 07 6:03 pm 
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Here are some of the Juncos you might see around:

Oregon Dark-eyed Junco, male (darker head in comparison to female)
Image


Oregon Dark-eyed Junco, female (lighter head in comparison to male)
Image


Cassiar Dark-eyed Junco (more brown and less perfect cutoff between colours in comparison to slate-colored)
Image


Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco (this isn't the best example of one, but more grey and more perfect cutoff between colours in comparison to cassiar)
Image



I hope this helps!

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 Post subject: Re: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 08 10:56 pm 
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Guy L. Monty wrote:
Seperating Dark-eyed Juncos into subspecies is generally thought to be too difficult in the field to even attempt, and can be a challenge even in the hand. This is probably one of the reasons that there is little information out there.

Because of these difficulties, most will simply seperate them into "morphs", such as "Oregon", "Slate-colored", or "Pink-sided".

In BC, there are four subspecies that occur here regularly;
Junco hyemalis cismontanus (Slate-colored type, found east of the Rockies)
J.h. oreganus (Oregon type, found along the central and northern coast)
J.h. shufeldti (Oregon type, found on the southern coast)
J.h. (Oregon type found throughout the interior, west of the Rockies)

Pyle's "Identification Guide to North American Birds" would probably be your best bet for specific information on subspecies, but even it isn't really going to be of much help in the field.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

Hey thanks for the detail, very helpful. I obviously don't have all the subspecies like I once thought. The term "morph"... is it a slang description, or more of a scientific division?


Birder2000 thanks for the pics, super helpful: I'll definitely be referring back to your post as I examine the juncos of my lawn.

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 Post subject: Re: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 09 1:00 am 
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Honestly, "morph" isn't the correct term here. "Group" or "type" would be more correct.

One thing not mentioned so far, is that a "Cassiar junco" isn't a subspecies, it refers to an intergrade between a Slate-colored junco and an Oregon junco.

Guy L. Monty
Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island, BC


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 Post subject: Re: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 09 9:02 am 
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Guy L. Monty wrote:
One thing not mentioned so far, is that a "Cassiar junco" isn't a subspecies, it refers to an intergrade between a Slate-colored junco and an Oregon junco.



Thanks for letting me know! I have always wondered if Cassiar juncos are a subspecies or a hybrid between subspecies.

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Liron

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World Life List: 901 (seen), 921 (including heard only)
2016 BC Year List: 313 (2015: 311)
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 Post subject: Re: Cassiar vs Slate vs Oregon Junco
PostPosted: Mar 11 12:08 am 
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Location: Coast Salish Territory
Thanks for the clarifications. Evolution's continuous diversity is fascinating.

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