Bird Identification

Redpoll subspecies

If identifying Hoary Redpoll is not enough of a challenge for you, maybe you’d like to look for subspecies of Hoary and Common Redpolls? First, check out this map from the Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding. This shows selected western band recoveries of Common Redpolls, and the obvious suggestion is that some of the Common …

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Redpoll Identification

Some updates 4 and 6 December –check out Jochen’s comments and blog post here With the predicted superflight of finches beginning to develop (1st ever Common Redpoll in New Mexico last week) more and more questions are coming up about finch identification. RedpollsHoary Redpoll, although always less numerous than Common south of the Arctic, is …

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“Great White” Heron – not just a color morph

Great White Heron Ardea herodias occidentalis updated 13 Nov 2007, thanks to all those who have commented publicly and privately. I’ve backed off a bit from my criticism of the TBRC decision, the more I learn the less clear-cut this seems, although I still think it’s at least a good subspecies. Shaibal Mitra sent me …

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Black Tern and White-winged Tern – leg color

Another note from the comments under Sandwich Tern by Joseph Kennedy on 4 September, this deserves a separate discussion (Thanks, Joseph). He writes: I have received a note Stu Wilson concerning the black tern pictures posted from the same date. I guess that I should check feet on the rest of my tern pictures. According …

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Judging size of birds

Size judgment is one of the constant quandaries of bird identification – critically important but fraught with error. In a recent online discussion about these photos of sandpipers in flight, I was intrigued by the question of how I, and others, “just knew” that these birds were too small to be Knot or Pectoral and …

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Olive-sided Flycatcher – white patches and age in fall

Several recent Massachusetts reports of Olive-sided Flycatchers seem to have used the presence of white patches on the sides of the back to age the birds as juveniles. This is incorrect and unfortunately the source of the error seems to be an ambiguous entry in the Sibley Guide – sorry. Both adults and juveniles can …

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Distinguishing Island and Western Scrub-Jays

Feb. 10, 2005 In late October 2004 I was privileged to visit the Nature Conservancy’s spectacular Santa Cruz Island preserve off the coast of Southern California. This island, along with the other California Channel Islands has been called the “Galapagos of the North” and has long been the focus of biological studies, but became more …

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