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I've been going through my photos from last year, trying to make IDs on all my backyard visitors (southern Alberta). I'm sure I will find more, but here are the current newest ones.

 

Taken in September -- Yellow-Rumped Warbler (female Audubon's)?

warbler.jpg.a768c8521b99808024d1694088931517.jpg

Taken end of October -- Golden-crowned Kinglet (male)?

kinglet.jpg.b29316149401b1802c471228e2ee89fb.jpg

Taken December -- Downy or Hairy Woodpecker (female)? It's my only shot and I can't tell the beak length, and I don't know if I see spotting on those outer tail feathers. From what I recall, the bird seemed fairly small.

woodpecker.thumb.jpg.24f22e40bfd36b393acb9613f9917a0e.jpg

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1. Looks good for Audubon ssp. White throat does not wrap around

2. Is a golden-crowned kinglet probably amoebus ssp by range, but impossible to tell out in the field

3. is a downy woodpecker. The tiny bill makes it this species. Probably leucurus ssp by where you are. 

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54 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

1. Looks good for Audubon ssp. White throat does not wrap around

2. Is a golden-crowned kinglet probably amoebus ssp by range, but impossible to tell out in the field

3. is a downy woodpecker. The tiny bill makes it this species. Probably leucurus ssp by where you are. 

Thanks folks! Starting to discover just how much diversity my yard really is attracting, and it's pretty exciting.

I am using All About Birds for most of my IDs, and while it has some subspecies (ie, Audubon's), it makes no mention of either the kinglet or woodpecker subspecies you mentioned here. Where can I look to learn more about this and the differences between subspecies? I'm genuinely interested!

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1 hour ago, Hal.314 said:

Thanks folks! Starting to discover just how much diversity my yard really is attracting, and it's pretty exciting.

I am using All About Birds for most of my IDs, and while it has some subspecies (ie, Audubon's), it makes no mention of either the kinglet or woodpecker subspecies you mentioned here. Where can I look to learn more about this and the differences between subspecies? I'm genuinely interested!

Do you have a field guide yet?  Sibley's, Peterson's, and other have most subspecies.  National Geographic's 'Birds of North America' is even more detailed but it's a massive hardback, great for home but not fit for field use.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Do you have a field guide yet?  Sibley's, Peterson's, and other have most subspecies.  National Geographic's 'Birds of North America' is even more detailed but it's a massive hardback, great for home but not fit for field use.

I have a used Audubon Handbook to Western Birds from 1988... admittedly there are a lot of absent species, and some are only mentioned in text with no accompanying photo. Skimming images on Google of either of the two field books you have mentioned look like they have a ton more visual information, and the National Geographic one looks like a keeper! Seems like it might be time for an upgrade! 😊

Thank you!!

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41 minutes ago, Hal.314 said:

I have a used Audubon Handbook to Western Birds from 1988... admittedly there are a lot of absent species, and some are only mentioned in text with no accompanying photo. Skimming images on Google of either of the two field books you have mentioned look like they have a ton more visual information, and the National Geographic one looks like a keeper! Seems like it might be time for an upgrade! 😊

Thank you!!

If you have an '88 guide, it's definitely time to replace it.  There are at least two basic problems with old field guides.

The first is that the assorted professional ornithology organizations often reclassify species based on new data.  They may decide that two separate species are actually one, so they merge the two and give them a new name.  In other cases, they decide that two subspecies are completely separate species, and so they split the old species into two new ones.  Old guides will show species names that no longer exist, and they will show some current species as old subspecies.

The second big problem is that range maps will be out of date.  They may show birds where they were but aren't now, and not show them in newer locations.  This is especially true as populations respond to climate change.

If you have access to a brick-and-mortar book store or Wild Birds Unlimited, definitely go look at what they have.  You'll find some guides are arranged more to your liking than others.

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On the Yellow-rumped Warbler, there is enough of a suggestion of a supercilium and of an ear surround and of a white throat to suggest that the bird is an immature female Myrtle. Immature female plumages in both subspecies can be very drab, making distinguishing between them difficult, sometimes impossible, at least in the field. Below are four examples of the age-sex class borrowed from the first page of photos of the species on eBird, with the filter set to include only September birds and with the order set to Best Quality.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/179319221#_ga=2.124121999.487431779.1592362367-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/175930271#_ga=2.124121999.487431779.1592362367-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/64736731#_ga=2.124121999.487431779.1592362367-1184313056.1549327880

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/115625561#_ga=2.114229122.487431779.1592362367-1184313056.1549327880

Notice, particularly, how similar the individuals in the 2nd and 3rd photos are. I'd identify the bird in the 2nd photo as an Audubon's, the bird in the 3rd photo a Myrtle. I believe that the 2nd bird is straightforward and I acknowledge that there will be disagreement with my ID of the 3rd bird, given the bit of brighter yellow on the throat. I could be wrong, but the bird has the more-contrasty "look-and-feel" of a Myrtle, rather than the homogeneous look of that age-sex class of Audubon's. Of course, the 3rd bird could also be a hybrid, which are very far from rare (and see here).

The sex of the Golden-crowned Kinglet is indiscernible from this photo, as it does not show any orange on the crown. Definite orange showing equals male; no orange showing equals unknown, unless the bird is in hand, then female.

On the Downy Woodpecker, you can just see parts of the black spots on the outer (white) tail feathers, which is one of the surer ways to distinguish Downy from Hairy in most parts of Downy's range.

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11 minutes ago, Tony Leukering said:

On the Downy Woodpecker, you can just see parts of the black spots on the outer (white) tail feathers, which is one of the surer ways to distinguish Downy from Hairy in most parts of Downy's range.

On the woodpecker's tail, I believe Tony is referencing these:

image.png.b83af450e0fca73021326c634eb3a589.png

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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3 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

On the Yellow-rumped Warbler, there is enough of a suggestion of a supercilium and of an ear surround and of a white throat to suggest that the bird is an immature female Myrtle.

Fascinating! On closer inspection, I can see what you are suggesting. These little birds seems to be a lot more complex to ID than they seem on a first glance! I really appreciate the breakdown and examples on how you are doing your ID work -- it gives me a better way to approach my own ID'ing.

3 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

The sex of the Golden-crowned Kinglet is indiscernible from this photo, as it does not show any orange on the crown. Definite orange showing equals male; no orange showing equals unknown, unless the bird is in hand, then female.

For some reason I thought the kinglet was sexually dimorphic...! I stand corrected, as this is an obvious mistake.

3 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

On the Downy Woodpecker, you can just see parts of the black spots on the outer (white) tail feathers, which is one of the surer ways to distinguish Downy from Hairy in most parts of Downy's range.

 

3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

On the woodpecker's tail, I believe Tony is referencing these:

Thank you for these clarifications! I mentioned it in the original post that I couldn't tell if the outer white feathers were spotted, and I was worried it was wishful thinking those were spots on the image! Downy Woodpecker is one of my favorite birds, and one I have never caught a picture of before. 😊

You guys have no idea how much I am thankful for the explanations, and how much more I am getting into birds as you all share your knowledge. Thank you!!

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1 hour ago, Hal.314 said:

For some reason I thought the kinglet was sexually dimorphic...!

You were correct; they are sexually dimorphic.  The males have orange on their crowns that is often hidden by the yellow crown feathers....just as a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet's red crown feathers are often hidden.

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17 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

You were correct; they are sexually dimorphic.  The males have orange on their crowns that is often hidden by the yellow crown feathers....just as a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet's red crown feathers are often hidden.

Ah! Good point. I suppose I was thinking something more like House Sparrows or Red-winged Blackbirds. I'm such a newbie! 😁

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6 hours ago, Hal.314 said:

For some reason I thought the kinglet was sexually dimorphic...! I stand corrected, as this is an obvious mistake.

It is. But the orange bit in the center of the crown of males is hidden, just like the red on the crown of male Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

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11 hours ago, SirVive said:

You can't be too much of a newbie using big words like that :classic_cool:

That's just something carries over from high school biology 😄

I've been taking photos of birds in my yard on and off since last September, but only got serious about identifying them and studying them in the last week of May when a Yellow Warbler showed up and I realized it wasn't an American Goldfinch!!

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On 6/18/2020 at 12:08 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

On the woodpecker's tail, I believe Tony is referencing these:

image.png.b83af450e0fca73021326c634eb3a589.png

I hope it is OK if I chime into this conversation and ask a question (if not, I am sorry).

I am wondering if this is a definite mark of downy vs hairy, if so is the number of spots always 3? I believe I saw a hairy woodpecker yesterday (based on bill length); however, it has one black spot on the outer tail feather as I can see. Or is this different again per region (I live in Rochester, MN)?

20200618_1043_TE_7DmkII_1387.jpg

20200618_1043_TE_7DmkII_1387-2.jpg

Edited by Tim Emmerzaal
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