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Snow Buntings


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Yesterday I encountered three different large flocks of Horned Larks in western Iowa.  Each flock also had a sizeable number of Snow Buntings embedded within them.  This is a new lifer bird for me (Yeah!).  I understand this time of year, I'm likely to only see non-breeding males and non-breeding females.  According to Cornel Labs "All About Birds", my primary go-to site for bird ID, non-breeding males are white below, with rusty patches on the head, "ear", and shoulders.  Its back is dark and streaky.  Non-breeding females are white below, with rusty patches on the head, "ear", and chest.  The back is dark with rusty streaks.  When the flock takes off together, it's easy to tell them apart.  On the ground however, I'm having a tough time differentiating them.  It's unlikely that every one I photographed are all males or all females.  Are there other features I'm missing, or am I looking too hard.  Calling them all non-breeding adults is no bueno.   

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2 hours ago, smittyone@cox.net said:

Calling them all non-breeding adults is no bueno.

Why not?  It's impossible to identify the sex of every bird.  Sometime they can't be ID'ed as species.  'Non-breeding adult' is at least accurate; a forced ID may not be.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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When I say No Bueno to calling them all non-breeding adults, I mean that I'm personally against lumping them ALL that way when I report them.  If I can identify their sex, then I'll try to do that.  If I cannot determine their sex, then I'm fine with calling them non-breeding adults. This is only my personal preference, and the way I try to report birds that I photograph.  Of course everyone else can report them as they like.  

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