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Intergrade juncoes


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8 minutes ago, sfinmt said:

No. 1 appears to fit the cassiar description well.

No. 2 looks to have some buffiness in the flanks and black hood.  I'd call that an Oregon male.

No. 3 looks like an Oregon female with the grayish hood.

Thanks, sfinmt!  So your view is just a little buffiness makes it an Oregon, even if the majority of the flank color is gray?

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Well, given the lighting and such in photo 2, a subjective call might go either way.   Looking through a couple R. Wright references;   "Sparrows of N. America" p 241 indicates ..."flanks and breast sides are gray with a barely discernable overlay of pinkish".   In "The Junco called Cassiar" he says  a "nearly invisible tinge of gray on its brownish flank".

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The first two look fine for Cassiar to me (defined hoods but gray sides). The last one looks more like a female Oregon but the gray on the flanks makes me think it has some Slate-colored in there. Yes, Cassiar Juncos are Oregon x Slate-colored. Otherwise known as Dark-eyed Junco cismontanus, and that's what eBird uses (it doesn't recognize "Cassiar").

Edited by Melierax
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On 11/3/2019 at 2:56 PM, Melierax said:

The first two look fine for Cassiar to me (defined hoods but gray sides). The last one looks more like a female Oregon but the gray on the flanks makes me think it has some Slate-colored in there. Yes, Cassiar Juncos are Oregon x Slate-colored. Otherwise known as Dark-eyed Junco cismontanus, and that's what eBird uses (it doesn't recognize "Cassiar").

Thanks, Melierax and Phalarope!

Yes, Cassiar are Oregon x Slate-colored, but the article by Rick Wright that sfinmt linked to says, 'It is worth remarking that the same scenario probably recurs even now, with occasional pairs of "pure" Oregon and Slate-colored Juncos producing young that potentially replicate the appearance of a true Cassiar Junco (Miller 1941 ). With that possibility in mind, it may be strictly more accurate away from the breeding grounds to speak of "apparent" Cassiar Juncos or "Cassiar-type" Juncos, though it seems likely that most such birds are in fact genuine Cassiar Juncos, members of the stabilized and geographically delimited population designated J. h. cismontanus.'  Wright talks about that in more detail in his book on sparrows.

Since everyone is wondering... I joined The Junco Complex group on Facebook and asked about these photos.  The two responses I got agreed that the first two birds are Cassiar.  One said weird intermediate birds like the third should go on eBird as cismontanus for the time being, but the other suggested that J. h. thurberi, the Oregon subspecies that breeds in most of the California mountains, can have gray flanks.  So I'm going to put the third photo onto eBird under "Dark-eyed Junco" with the caption "You make the call."

Also I apologize for misspelling "juncos" in the thread title.

Edited by Jerry Friedman
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So what's a "true" Cassiar? Maybe I'm skimming the article but there definitely isnt a separate subspecies of Junco called cassiar. It's a hybrid slate colored and Oregon, unless I'm completely mistaken. Also that article is 6 years old, and scientists have been able to research birds like this much more thoroughly within these past 6 years... not saying it's necessarily wrong, but it could be misinformed. Everything I've ever read has said that Cassiar Juncos are simply hybrids. Sibley says it is a "broad intergrade population". 

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11 hours ago, Melierax said:

So what's a "true" Cassiar? Maybe I'm skimming the article but there definitely isnt a separate subspecies of Junco called cassiar. It's a hybrid slate colored and Oregon, unless I'm completely mistaken. Also that article is 6 years old, and scientists have been able to research birds like this much more thoroughly within these past 6 years... not saying it's necessarily wrong, but it could be misinformed. Everything I've ever read has said that Cassiar Juncos are simply hybrids. Sibley says it is a "broad intergrade population". 

Rick Wright talks about that in the sparrow guide that sfinmt linked to.  It's copyrighted 2019.  That link is to the limited preview at Google Books, but the pages I can see are the ones where he talks about what Cassiar "is".

As I understand it, one possibility is that thousands of years ago, Oregon and Slate-colored interbred in the Canadian Rockies and the hybrid "stabilized".  Essentially all the males in that population are recognizable Cassiar, with black hoods and gray sides.  When two birds in that population mate,  their male offspring will all look like that.  Those would be "true Cassiars".  (Unfortunately, the females don't seem to be distinctive enough for me to talk about what they look like.)  There could be other intergrades from modern matings between Oregon and Slate-colored, and some might look like "true Cassiars", even like the classic males.

The other possibility is the one you're talking about, I think.  The population in the Canadian Rockies is a "hybrid swarm", with all kinds of intergrades between Oregon and Slate-colored.  Some, maybe many of the males have the Cassiar look, but their fathers may well not, and they don't breed true.

Rick Wright, as of this year, didn't think the question was settled.  But I don't know what you've read and what arguments you've seen. 

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