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Junco ssp. - White wing-bars, 3+ white tail feathers - SW MI 2/6-2/13


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I've had a Junco with white wing-bars hanging around.  I assumed it is just one of the uncommon Slate-colored that have this trait.  Today I managed to get a very rough shot of it in flight with tail feathers spread.  I count up 3 full white ones, with white on the 4th.  Obviously this would be extremely unlikely to be around this area, but 2 traits make me at least have to get some other opinions.  Not sure what else I could do to get some more "proof".  Looking for thoughts and appreciate it in advance.  

First shot from 2/6 - I'm pretty sure the same bird as the other pics.  

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This shot is from 2/10

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These next two shots are from today 2/13.  

91a2318_orig.jpg

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My daughter, on the other side of the room, said "hey, that has wing bars... that makes it a.... uh....  " she had to go get her sibley's guide because she couldn't think of it.

Looking at her book I'd agree this is something to look at. Your description plus the photos has me thinking it is indeed a white-winged and not slate. The picture with the tail feathers is a great one to have.  I'd wait til someone else chimes in on this for confirmation but if you use eBird, I'd submit it as white-winged and it will get flagged and reviewed by your local reviewer. They'd be interested in this bird, I imagine, if it is what I think it is.

Location is interesting with these birds sometimes. This winter as well as last winter, a local state park(deep in a forest, but at the feeders) they have a gray-headed junco there... this is here in NW Arkansas. People drive from around the area to try and go see it.

The different variations of juncos(and other birds) can frustrate me at times but they sure make things interesting. 🙂

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I don’t know exactly what to think of the rectrices. I will take a look in Pyle when I get home in a couple hours. Should be able to help. In the mean time, I don’t recommend putting this in eBird as White-winged until this feature is analyzed. 

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I posted to state listserve and got a response back from one of the more active banders.  He said he hadn’t seen that much white on tails.  Max for birds he bands is 60% white on r4.  The wing-bars he sees on 5-10%, mostly young.  

I’ve tried to get pics near other juncos but they are pretty respectful “personal space”.  I can say naked eye it doesn’t stick out size wise from 25-30 feet away.  I can’t pick it out clearly in the group. But the .5-.6 inches I’m not sure if it would be noticeable to me.  I cannot find any side by side pics of Slate and White-winged.  

Realizing how improbable this would be I know I would have to tick off at least that size box before I’d submit to eBird or even the Records Committee.

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