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Jerry Friedman

Junco in New Mexico

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Well, it definitely doesn't look like an Oregon because of the grey sides. Slate-colored's (immature males or females) can be similar to that, but note Cassiar (cismontanus subspeces) or Slate-colored x Oregon are very similar. I personally think it could have some Oregon parents somewhere along the line (in addition to Slate-colored and / or Cassiar) due to the fact the head looks slightly darker than the sides in the first picture. If you're someone who does eBird, there is an option for birds like this (Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored / cismontanus)). Not as satisfying as calling it Slate-colored, admittedly.

Here's an interesting eBird report (in New Mexico) that covers it pretty well, though with a male bird: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S25953895

Another eBird report with a bird that looks closer to yours: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S40914778

Edited by tedsandyman

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To clarify, Slate-colored / cismontanus actually isn't the best option for the first bird I linked above since it's definitely not a Slate-colored (too much contrast between sides / hood), though the comments were interesting. However, it's good for your bird (and, as another example, this bird https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/77573101). Sorry if this is confusing (better stop before I confuse myself...)

Edited by tedsandyman

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Interesting thought.  I probably shouldn't be too definite about junco subspecies when there's any doubt.  It would be very helpful if somebody had a set of good pictures of male and female cismontanus from their breeding range up there.  Field trip!

I would almost SWEAR I saw a classic male cismontanus right near there yesterday.

The couple who made the first report you linked to are actually friends of mine, and I remember that sighting, though I'd forgotten the comment that pure Slate-colored was overreported here.  I'm actually a bit surprised they called it Slate-colored/cismontanus, as you said.

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