Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Possible Pink-sided Junco

I spent most of this weekend out on the coast, but was still able to shoot some photos early Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Aside from a Varied Thrush trilling off in the distance around sunrise and a couple of possible (but without visual confirmation) Ruby-crowned Kinglet sightings, there wasn't much to report in terms of new species. However, there was a very strange-looking flock of Dark-eyed Juncos. In Oregon, the "Oregon" subspsecies is (not surprisingly) the predominant one. We do occasionally see a Slate-colored subspecies (predominant east of the Rockies) on occasion, especially in the winter. But that's typically all that's considered "normal" around here. The small flock of 3-5 that I saw on Saturday morning appeared unusually pink to me, and I immediately thought of the Pink-sided race that typically populates the Rockies. Most photos showed the characteristic pink coloring on the sides, but lacked the black lores (area between the eye and the bill). However, one photo (above) seems to show dark lores. (Thanks to local birder Greg Gillson for the helpful comments and analysis. Also, apologies for the noise; it was shortly after sunrise.) So far, we can put this one into the "possible" or even "likely" Pink-sided Junco category, but can't quite give it the "definite" label yet. I am awaiting the comments of another expert. More photos of others in the flock are shown below. I'm wondering if these others are Oregon/Pink-sided hybrids.

Outside of this very interesting find, there isn't much else to report. American Goldfinches are still hanging around in flocks of 30-40, and are accompanied by the occasional Pine Siskin.

In addition, Red-breasted Nuthatches have found my new peanut feeder and one was brave enough to pose for a shot on Sunday afternoon. That's it for now. Hopefully I'll get more info on the possible Pink-sided Junco soon. I get the feeling that I'll be seeing much more soon.

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