This started out like the post on winter Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Wood Ducks in Western Colorado. That post highlighted the fact I had overlooked the possibility of seeing either species on my trip. So, along those same lines I was going to discuss four subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco which are possible in Western Colorado. That will still be the theme. But I’ll also share some thoughts after researching the Dark-eyed Junco frustrating subspecies.
I knew Dark-eyed Juncos were possible in Western Colorado since they had a .06 possibility. I expected to see the usual Slate-colored subspecies until seeing a “different” junco at Connected Lakes State Park.
Once I realized it was a different subspecies I started taking as many photos of juncos as possible. I finally got around to reviewing them last week.
Using Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds of Western NA – pg. 424-426 I found there are 6 subspecies of Dark-eyed Juncos. The first four listed below are possible in the Grand Junction area in winter.
- Slate-colored – All NA – Indiana’s
- Oregon – Western NA
- Pink-Sided – Central NA
- Gray-headed – Great Basin
- Red-backed – AZ and NM
- White-winged – small strip of area from Montana to CO
Slate-colored – No
The nominate subspecies in most of the US is the Slate-colored. It is the one we know in the Midwest – dark gray above and white below. The female is a more gray-brown above. And looking through my photos I didn’t see one on the trip.
Oregon – Yes
What finally made it dawn on me that I wasn’t seeing the usual Slated-Colored was the different colored juncos at Connected Lake State Park. The junco had hoods.
Pink-sided – Probably Not
Gray-headed – No
Since I don’t have a photo I took this off the internet.
Now for an Indiana Bonus
While searching for a photo of the nominate Slate-Colored Junco I came across the following photo.
This post exemplifies why I got into blogging and birding. It “forces” you to look closer and do more research on a topic you might otherwise blow over. And eventually the frustrating part turns into knowledge. This will make my future encounters with any subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco very rewarding.