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What's This?

Picture Group 13

Submitted by Adrian Binns

This bird was photographed in my backyard, Langhorne PA, on December 10, 2006. I did see it again a few days later. Each time the bird stood out unlike any other junco that I’ve every seen in my yard. The most obvious feature to me was (1) the extensive amount of buffy coloration on the flank that (2) wrapped around the breast side towards the shoulder, which in turn (3) gave the bib a well-defined convex pattern

I think your junco is a cismontanus SLATE-COLORED or a Slate-colored X Oregon intergrade. It is NOT a pure Oregon, and definitely not a Pink-sided for several reasons. The contrast between rear hood (there isn't one!) and back, quality of the gray color everywhere, shape of the bib, etc., are all consistent with some Slate-colored blood in the bird rather than Oregon/Pink-sided.
- Paul Lehman

Cripes - this is worse than a thayers/iceland!
My guess is that this is a brown HY female hyemalis (Slate-colored). I tried to see molt limits in the wing but couldn't, however Pyle says that a very small percentage of birds will replace all Greater Coverts - still the primary coverts don't look obviously juvenile. The tails does look ratty suggesting retained juvenile rectrices. If it is an adult then I am stumped.
- Matt Sharp

I agree it is a first fall female slate-colored. The greater coverts have buff edging and the tips of the tail feathers are frayed, all good signs of a young bird.
- Nick Pulcinella

Junco hyemalis cismontanus or Cassiar Junco breeds in British Columbia, Canada

For more on this complex – The Sparrows of the United States and Canada by James Rising



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