Bird subspecies

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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Distinguishing Eurasian and American Common Merganser

The Eurasian subspecies group of Common Merganser, known by the English name Goosander, has occurred numerous times in the Aleutian Islands of western Alaska, but has never been identified farther east in North America. The American subspecies has some potential to wander to Eurasia, but has never been recorded there. I’ve never seen any in-depth …

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The Newfoundland Moorhen was an American based on back color

Last winter’s Common Moorhen in Newfoundland, given the likely split of New World and Old World moorhens into separate species, led me to try to determine the origin of the Newfoundland bird. That study of photos turned up a few small differences in bill color and shape, but nothing fully reliable. Now I have finally …

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