Bird subspecies

Underwing pattern in Cory’s Shearwater

If you keep up on the news of subspecies, you will have heard of Scopoli’s Shearwater. It’s the Mediterranean breeding population of Cory’s Shearwater, overlapping very little with populations nesting on Atlantic Islands, and many authorities have split the two into separate species recently. Both populations occur off the Atlantic coast of North America, although Cory’s in …

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Comparing the songs of Willet subspecies

The Eastern and Western subspecies of Willet are often mentioned as likely candidates for splitting into two species. They differ in size, proportions, details of plumage, migration pattern, and have no overlap in breeding range and very little in winter range. There is a lot of good information in print about how to identify them …

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Cackling-ish Geese

Cackling Goose is a rare fall migrant through Massachusetts and I usually see a couple of them each fall among the hundreds of Canada Geese around Concord. I look forward to the challenge of sorting through the flocks and picking these birds out, and once a candidate is located the identification has usually been straightforward – …

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Peter Pyle on Sage Sparrows

The most significant change for North American birders in the 2013 AOU Checklist supplement is the split of Sage Sparrow into two species: Sagebrush Sparrow and Bell’s Sparrow. In this arrangement Bell’s Sparrow includes the distinctively dark coastal California subspecies belli, as well as the much less distinctive interior California subspecies canescens. Sagebrush Sparrow is …

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An unusual Cattle Egret in Florida 

In late April 2012, Roy Halpin found and photographed an entirely buff-colored Cattle Egret in Saint Augustine, Florida. This is a particularly interesting bird because it provides an opportunity to consider the unusual nature of Cattle Egret coloration, as well as the identification of Cattle Egret subspecies. Coloration in Cattle Egrets To understand this bird’s …

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Subspecies of Scaled Quail

There are four named subspecies of Scaled Quail, three in the US and one in Mexico. The subspecies found in southern Texas is distinctly different from the other three, at least in adult male plumage, and makes the list of field identifiable subspecies. Here’s a quick summary of the differences, based on study of specimens …

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