Birds

Subspecies of Common Grackle: Bronzed, Florida, and “Purple”

Common Grackle is a familiar backyard bird almost everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains, and shows some fairly striking regional variation in color. This variation involves mainly the colors of iridescence, and is most obvious in males. Females of the two extremes are readily identified, but the full range of intermediates is only apparent in …

Subspecies of Common Grackle: Bronzed, Florida, and “Purple” Read More »

Finding and Identifying Stejneger’s Scoter in Alaska

Stejneger’s Scoter is the Siberian counterpart of White-winged Scoter, only recently recognized as a separate species. The two species are very similar in all respects, and only adult males can be identified readily in the field. Stejneger’s is considered a very rare visitor to western Alaska, but my experience in Nome in 2021 suggests that …

Finding and Identifying Stejneger’s Scoter in Alaska Read More »

Mew Gull is now two species! How to identify Common Gull and Short-billed Gull

For North American birders the most consequential change in the 2021 AOS Checklist supplement is the split of Mew Gull into two species – Short-billed Gull and Common Gull. For most birders this simply means changing the name of the species on your list from Mew Gull to Short-billed Gull. The North American population, common …

Mew Gull is now two species! How to identify Common Gull and Short-billed Gull Read More »

Distinguishing subspecies of Sandhill Crane

Here’s a new illustration I’ve done as part of some work on distinguishing the two subspecies groups of Sandhill Crane. Six subspecies of Sandhill Crane are generally recognized, but for field observers it’s more practical to assign birds to two subspecies groups: Lesser and Greater. The Greater subspecies group includes five of the named subspecies, …

Distinguishing subspecies of Sandhill Crane Read More »

Variation in Pine Siskins and the so-called “green morph”

Pine Siskins – streaky relatives of goldfinches – are so distinctive as a species that we tend to overlook their considerable individual variation. Siskins are unusual among the small finches in that males and females look nearly identical. Subtle individual differences in the amount or intensity of streaking, or in overall color, have no bearing …

Variation in Pine Siskins and the so-called “green morph” Read More »