Birds

Identification of the newest meadowlark – Chihuahuan

In their 2022 checklist supplement the AOS voted to elevate the southwestern populations of Eastern Meadowlark to a full species, with the name Chihuahuan Meadowlark. it’s been recognized as a distinctive population for decades, usually under the name Lilian’s Meadowlark, but making it a full species raises the stakes and adds new emphasis to a

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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

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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

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Identifying small flycatchers: Separating Elaenia and Empidonax by wing pattern

I wanted to know if I could find an objective and reliable feature that would allow me to distinguish any elaenia from any empidonax, and it turns out it’s the pattern on the folded wing. The presence or absence of pale edges on the primaries is the best single feature to focus on to be sure which genus you are looking at.

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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

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