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possible "Slate-colored" Junco at Islay Creek Campground


Kevin Zimmer
 

In my post from earlier today, I forgot to mention the unusual junco that Herb Elliott pointed out to Brad Schram and I at Islay Creek Campground. At the time, I told Herb that I thought the bird was an intergrade, with a substantial percentage of “Slate-colored” genes. That may still be the case, but, in looking at my photos, I’m not completely sure that a “pure” Slate-colored Junco can be ruled out. The bird had a dark, slate-gray hood, sharply cut off from very white median underparts. The flanks were gray, with no hint of brown or buff, as would be expected in one of the “Oregon” or “Pink-sided” forms of Dark-eyed Junco. The white median lower breast and belly, and dark, slaty hood all pointed to “Slate-colored” and away from a “Gray-headed” Junco. The bill was quite whitish, as would be expected for a Slate-colored Junco. The only part that wasn’t typical, was that the center of the back was mildly contrasting brown (not bright rufous as in Gray-headed Junco or Yellow-eyed Junco), and some of the upper wing-coverts, as well as the tertials, were inconspicuously washed with dull brown. This can be true of adult females (and even some males) of the “Slate-colored” form of Dark-eyed Junco. The only question is whether this individual has “too much” brown on the back and wings. If it does represent an intergrade, then the bulk of its genes come from Slate-colored Junco.

Anyone birding the campground should keep an eye out for this bird, which was foraging mostly right along the road through the first campground loop, first near the “amphitheater”, and, later, directly opposite (across the loop), mostly with other Dark-eyed Juncos.

Kevin Zimmer
Atascadero