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DEJU subspecies, thoughts?


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This Dark-eyed Junco has been at my feeders for the past week or so. Anyone have thoughts on the subspecies? Depending on the day, I can talk myself into thinking this is an immature female of any of the following ssp., hyemalis/shufeldti/cismontanus. I'll hold off on making remarks as to what I see here so as to not influence anyone else's opinions.

Photos taken through a double-paned window, but are pretty accurate to how the bird appears when viewed well.

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6 hours ago, DLecy said:

immature female of any of the following ssp.

When I was banding fall juncos in Colorado, the brown end of SCJU, ORJU, and PSJU were often difficult to ID to subspecies group. I didn't worry about cismontanus then. PSJU is easily ruled out on this one (lores, head color, side/flank color and extent). This is exactly the sort of bird that I found difficult, but...

2 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I think shufldeti can be ruled out, or at least a pure one by the real gray flanks. Even though it’s flagged on the filter, I would put it down as DEJU (Slate-colored/cismontanus). 

I agree. And that also gets into one of my pet peeves regarding eBird filters and spuh entries. If there is a non-zero limit for SCJU, there NEEDS to be a non-zero limit for Slate-colored/cismontanus. I have run into huge numbers of filters that will allow, say, 100 Song Sparrows, but only 25 sparrow sp. The problem is that eBird recruits skilled birders as reviewers, and many of them do not seem to take beginners and less-skilled birders into account in their filters. A large percentage of filters, if they have certain spuh entries on the filter at all, the limits are often zero. Do they really think that all eBirders are capable of identifying every sparrow, warbler, flycatcher, shorebird, etc., etc., etc. to species? I use spuh entries rather frequently, and it's very annoying to have a small number of sparrow sp. flag.

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15 minutes ago, Tony Leukering said:

When I was banding fall juncos in Colorado, the brown end of SCJU, ORJU, and PSJU were often difficult to ID to subspecies group. I didn't worry about cismontanus then. PSJU is easily ruled out on this one (lores, head color, side/flank color and extent). This is exactly the sort of bird that I found difficult, but...

I agree. And that also gets into one of my pet peeves regarding eBird filters and spuh entries. If there is a non-zero limit for SCJU, there NEEDS to be a non-zero limit for Slate-colored/cismontanus. I have run into huge numbers of filters that will allow, say, 100 Song Sparrows, but only 25 sparrow sp. The problem is that eBird recruits skilled birders as reviewers, and many of them do not seem to take beginners and less-skilled birders into account in their filters. A large percentage of filters, if they have certain spuh entries on the filter at all, the limits are often zero. Do they really think that all eBirders are capable of identifying every sparrow, warbler, flycatcher, shorebird, etc., etc., etc. to species? I use spuh entries rather frequently, and it's very annoying to have a small number of sparrow sp. flag.

Thanks, Tony. Great points. I primarily waffled between Slate-colored and cismontanus and the precise reason I didn't originally report it as such is that that particular category is unreported/yet to be approved for the county I live in. I threw a SCJU/cismontanus bird on a checklist a few years back that was approved in Mendocino County, but felt ok in doing so because there were other reports of that category in the county.

I agree with you about the spuhs. I use them as well, and have always found that a non-zero limits for New World Oriole sp., and Tanager sp. were prohibitive if not annoying. In addition to beginners and less-skilled birders, the fact that not all birds are seen well or fit neatly into a category, seem to be a couple other reasons the spuhs can be problematic.

The notion of an eBird filter determining how/what you report is a whole different ball of wax, but something I am currently reflecting on, obv. 🤔

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3 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I think shufldeti can be ruled out, or at least a pure one by the real gray flanks. Even though it’s flagged on the filter, I would put it down as DEJU (Slate-colored/cismontanus). 

Do you perhaps have photos you can send me of any of the cismontanus birds you reported in Marin?

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22 minutes ago, DLecy said:

Do you perhaps have photos you can send me of any of the cismontanus birds you reported in Marin?

I unfortunately don’t have any. From years past I didn’t really take photos of weird subspecies. This year I’ve had one when I was biking. One LC might have a photo of. I’ve had one coming to my suet I’ve been trying to photograph, but it’s much harder when your on a hill side and there’s a junco flock of at least 60 birds. Individual birds take along time to come back and they get chased off. Hopefully I’ll have a photo in a few days. Yours looks more slate-colored like than mine. The one at my house right now looks like a male Oregon, but it has grayish flanks. 

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11 hours ago, DLecy said:

The notion of an eBird filter determining how/what you report is a whole different ball of wax, but something I am currently reflecting on, obv. 🤔

YES! That's the problem. Many eBirders do not know how to add entries to their checklists that are not on the filter -- and, apparently, aren't interested enough to read the manual to find out, even thought it's quite simple. I suspect that a lot of eBirders report actually unidentified birds to species. I understand that one more Song Sparrow on an eastern U.S. checklist that was not actually detected is no particular big deal. The fact that the reporting of such a bird as that Song Sparrow was... encouraged by the filter is ghastly.

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18 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

I think shufldeti can be ruled out, or at least a pure one by the real gray flanks. 

This is why I considered shufeldti. The flanks don't appears as gray in this photo. This is the same bird. Just for measure, here is a picture of an immature female Slate-colored that reminds me of the bird at my feeders. I think the bird I posted leans much more towards Slate-colored, but I will likely put it down as a slash due to some concerns about cismontanus. I'll drop the topic now. 😁

https://ebird.org/media/catalog?taxonCode=slcjun&sort=rating_rank_desc&sex=f&q=Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis&age=i\

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