Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

Post #14 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 19/100.)

INTRODUCTION

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is the heaviest upland ground bird native to North America. It is the ancestor to the domestic turkey, which was originally derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of wild turkey. With the population steadily increasing over the past decade, Wild Turkey is an Uncommon to Fairly Common Resident with higher numbers found in the foothills than on the valley floor.

THANKSGIVING DINNER?

There’s a good chance the Pilgrims and Wampanoag did in fact eat turkey as part of that very first Thanksgiving. Wild turkey was a common food source for people who settled Plymouth. In the days prior to the celebration, the colony’s governor sent four men to go “fowling”—that is, to hunt for birds. Did they come back with any turkey? We don’t know for sure, but probably. At the very least, we know there was a lot of meat, since the native Wampanoag people who celebrated with the Pilgrims added five deer to the menu. (First Thanksgiving Meal)

WILD TURKEY IMMIGRATION TO CALIFORNIA

The Wild Turkey is not native to the Central Valley of California. It was introduced from the 1950s through the end of the twentieth century by the California Fish and Game Commission (now the California Department of Fish and Wildlife  Fish & Wildlife imported thousands of non-native Rio Grande wild turkeys to California, releasing them in over 200 locations throughout the state. The turkeys quickly adapted and can now be found living everywhere from oak savannas to the suburbs.

A couple of local spots to find Wild Turkeys would be Henderson Park in Merced County, in the upper foothills of Del Puerto Canyon in Stanislaus County and the Mokelumne River Day Use Area in San Joaquin County.

TWO TURKEYS

In addition to the Wild Turkey, the only other member of the Meleagris genus in the world is the Ocellated Turkey of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Wild Turkey | Ocellated Turkey (Calakmul Ruins, Campeche)

COOL FACT:

When they need to, Turkeys can swim by tucking their wings in close, spreading their tails, and kicking.

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Western Meadowlark

Sturnella neglecta

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

Post #13 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 18/100.)

INTRODUCTION

The buoyant, flutelike melody of the Western Meadowlark ringing out across a field can brighten anyone’s day. The Western Meadowlark is a Common Year-round Resident throughout the open country of the San Joaquin Valley. The Western Meadowlark is not a lark (Family Alaudidae) but is related instead to New World blackbirds and troupials (Family Icteridae).

APPEARANCE

This colorful member of the blackbird family flashes a vibrant yellow breast crossed by a distinctive, black, V-shaped band.

DISTRIBUTION

The Western Meadowlark is one of our most abundant and widely distributed grassland birds. It inhabits most open country of both natural and planted grasslands of the valley floor.

COOL FACT:

John James Audubon gave the Western Meadowlark its scientific name, Sturnella (starling-like) neglecta, claiming that most explorers and settlers who ventured west of the Mississippi after Lewis and Clark had overlooked this common bird.

CONSERVATION STATUS:

Although Western Meadowlarks are numerous, their breeding populations declined approximately 0.9% per year between 1966 and 2019, resulting in a cumulative decline of about 37%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

The graph below shows the Central Valley population trends between 2007 and 2021. The larger the red circle, the greater the decline in numbers.

Declines may be due, in part, to conversion of grassland breeding and wintering habitat for housing and agricultural uses. Other factors affecting Western Meadowlark populations may include pesticides, habitat degradation due to invasive plant species, and fire suppression that alters native grasslands. (From All About Birds.com)

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Our Wintering “White” Geese – Part II

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting 100 of the most common Valley bird species.

Post #12 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 16 and 17/100.)

In Part I of the Our Wintering “White” Geese post, we learned about the larger “white Goose with the Grinning Patch”, the Snow Goose.

Snow Goose (lower left) Ross’s Goose (upper right)

In this post the star of the show is the more diminutive Ross’s Goose.

ROSS’S GOOSE Anser rossii (Cassin, 1861)

INTRODUCTION

The Ross’s Goose is a Fairly Common Winter Visitor found almost exclusively in winter in the Central Valley. Similar to the Snow Goose, its referred habitats are fresh emergent wetlands, adjacent lacustrine waters, and nearby wet croplands, pastures, meadows, and grasslands. Fairly Common from November to early March.

DESCRIPTION

Plumage is similar to white morph of Greater and Lesser Snow geese, but average annual body mass of Ross’s Goose is 60% and 67% of these species. Feathers of lore meet base of maxilla forming a straight line instead of a forward curved arc typical of Greater and Lesser Snow geese.

On basal half and sides of maxilla, particularly in mature males, are species-specific vascular wartlike protuberances or caruncles which become more prevalent with age and possibly act as a badge or status symbol, serving to limit contests among conspecifics.

DIMORPHIC FORMS

Similar to the “Blue morph” Snow Goose, the adult blue morph Ross’s Goose has the same dark gray-brown body but a reduced amount of white confined to just the head.

“Blue Morph” Ross’s Goose

The odds of finding a dark or “Blue” morph have been calculated at about 0.008% (3 out of 38,825).

DISTRIBUTION

The main wintering area for the species is presently the Central Valley of California. The total number of birds has increased from a recorded low of 2,000–3,000 in the early 1950s to more than exceed 2 million birds in 2009.

COOL FACTS

The female Ross’s Goose does all of the incubation of the eggs. The male stays nearby and guards her the whole time. The female covers the eggs with down when she leaves the nest. The down keeps the eggs warm while she is away and may help hide them from predators.

    Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series,

    Our Wintering “White” Geese – Part I

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting 100 of the most common Valley bird species.

    Post #11 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 16 and 17/100.)

    “Your first indication of their presence is the distant sound of baying hounds. As you look up, you see the sky flecked with tiny white moving shapes, which appear like snowflakes drifting lazily across the azure sky.” naturalist J. B. Grinnell

    There are two species of “white” geese in California’s Central Valley. The Snow Goose is the larger and more widespread species compared to its cousin, the Ross’s Goose.

    SNOW GEESE Anser caerulescens (Linnaeus, 1758)

    INTRODUCTION

    The Snow Goose is a Common Winter Visitor found primarily in the Central Valley.
    Preferred habitats are fresh emergent wetlands, adjacent lacustrine waters, and nearby wet croplands, pastures, meadows, and grasslands. Common from November to early March, and fairly common in October and April in Central Valley south to Merced Co. Less common southward in interior.

    DESCRIPTION

    This medium-sized goose is distinguished by a blackish “grinning patch” or “smile.”

    The adult white morph is completely white except for gray primary coverts and black primaries.

    IMMATURES

    The immature white morph is a darker, grayish and white mixed plumage.

    Immature White morph Snow Geese

    DIMORPHIC FORMS

    The species is dimorphic, consisting of light-morph (white) and dark-morph (blue) variations of Snow Geese. Until 1983, the 2 color morphs were considered separate species.

    “Blue” Morph Snow Goose

    The adult blue morph has the same bill pattern, but its body is largely dark gray-brown except for white head and foreneck. White- and blue-morph birds interbreed and the offspring may be of either morph. These two colors of geese were once thought to be separate species; since they interbreed and are found together throughout their ranges, they are now considered two color phases of the same species.

    IT’S IN THE GENES

    “Blue” Morph Snow Goose

    The color phases are genetically controlled. The dark phase results from a single dominant gene and the white phase is homozygous recessive. When choosing a mate, young birds will most often select a mate that resembles their parents’ coloring. If the birds were hatched into a mixed pair, they will mate with either color phase.

    DISTRIBUTION

    Snow Geese adapted quickly to use agricultural fields, which is one reason their populations are doing so well. During winter and migration, look for them in plowed cornfields or wetlands. Also check lakes, ponds, and marshes where they roost and bathe along shorelines and in open water.

    POPULATION EXPLOSION

    The breeding population of lesser Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese exceeds 7 million birds, an increase of more than 300% since the mid-1970s. Since the late 1990s, efforts have been underway in the U.S. and Canada to reduce the North American population of lesser snow and Ross’s geese to sustainable levels due to the documented destruction of tundra habitat in Hudson Bay and other nesting areas. The Light Goose Conservation Order was established in 1997 and federally mandated in 1999. Increasing hunter bag limits, extending the length of hunting seasons, and adding new hunting methods have all been successfully implemented, but have not reduced the overall population of snow geese in North America.

    NEXT POST – Our Wintering “White” Geese – Part II ROSS’S GEESE Anser rossii

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    Wood Duck

    Aix sponsa

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

    Post #10 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 15/100.)

    INTRODUCTION 

    The Wood Duck is arguably the most spectacularly beautiful duck in the Central Valley. It is a Fairly Common Year-round Resident throughout the wetlands and waterways of the valley. Similar to other dabbling ducks, the Wood Duck is an omnivore with a broad diet of seeds, fruits, and aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

    Male Wood Ducks at Rahilly Park, Merced

    APPEARANCE 

    Wood Ducks have a unique shape among ducks—a boxy, crested head, a thin neck, and a long, broad tail. In flight, they hold their head up high, sometimes bobbing it.

    Like most waterfowl species, the wood duck is sexually dimorphic with the males sporting a glossy green head cut with white stripes, a chestnut breast and buffy sides. 

    Male Wood Duck

    Females are gray-brown with a white-speckled breast.

    Female Wood Duck at Henderson Park, Merced County

    DISTRIBUTION

    Look for Wood Ducks in wooded swamps, marshes, streams, beaver ponds, and small lakes. They stick to wet areas with trees or extensive cattails. 

    At San Joaquin River NWR

    NESTING

    Wood Ducks nest in cavities in trees or in man made nest boxes and females may lay 9-14 eggs. The eggs are dull white to pale buff. Incubation is by female only, 25-35 days. Ducklings remain in the nest until the morning after hatching. Clinging with sharp claws and bracing with tails, young climb to the cavity entrance and jump to ground. Young are tended by females for 5-6 weeks, capable of flight at about 8-9 weeks.

    Baby Wood Ducklings

    WOOD DUCK BOXES

    Wood Duck Nest Box at San Joaquin River NWR

    As a cavity nester, Wood Ducks take readily to nest boxes.

    Informative web pages by Ducks Unlimited:

    FLIGHT CALLS

    Wood Duck Flight Call by Ed Pandolfino

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    Killdeer

    Charadrius vociferus

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

    Post #9 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 14/100.)

    Status

    The Killdeer is a Common Resident to California’s Central Valley. Killdeer belong to the plover family (Charadriidae) with 68 species worldwide. As their Latin specific epithet name indicates, they are quite noisy (vociferous).

    Description

    The Killdeer’s upperparts are mostly brown with white underparts. Their upper chest is interrupted by 2 black bands. The sexes are monomorphic (alike) and plumages are essentially identical throughout year.

    Distribution

    Killdeer can be found from Canada, south all the way to the coastal areas of Peru. In California’s Central Valley, Killdeer can be found in close proximity to humans, often in schoolyards, parks and businesses with dirt lots.

    Nests and Young

    Killdeer nests are located on mostly flat, gravelly open areas with little to no nesting material visible. They are also known to nest on flat graveled rooftops and parking lots. Killdeer young are precocial vs altricial at birth. A precocial bird is “capable of moving around on its own soon after hatching.” The word comes from the same Latin root as “precocious.” Altricial means “incapable of moving around on its own soon after hatchling.” It comes from a Latin root meaning “to nourish” a reference to the need for extensive parental care

    Precocial Baby Killdeer

    HabitsInjury-Feigning Display

    Performed by either sex, usually by only 1 member of pair at a time. If both members of pair are present, one usually gives alarm calls from a distance. In response to potential predator, bird crouches, head low, breast-bands minimally showing, wings drooping and partially extended, sometimes flapping to beat against the ground, tail fanned and dragging the ground to display rufous rump-patch. Displaying bird’s body is usually oriented away from potential predator, but its head is turned to the side such that the bird looks over its shoulder at potential predator.

    Injury-feigning Display Creative Commons Image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

    Similar Species

    There is another breast-banded plover species similar to the Killdeer that can be found in the valley during spring and fall migration. The Semipalmated Plover has mostly the same coloration and marking except that it only has one band across its breast and it is a smaller species.

    Check out the comparison between the two species below.

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    Northern Flicker

    Colaptes auratus

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Birds is a photo blog series highlighting 100 common bird species found in California’s Central Valley.

    Post #8 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 13/100.)

    Common Year-round Resident

    Introduction

    The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a medium-sized bird of the woodpecker family. It is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, and is one of the few woodpecker species that migrate.

    “Red-shafted” Female Northern Flicker

    According to the Audubon field guide, “flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground”, probing with their beak, also sometimes catching insects in flight. Although they eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts, their primary food is insects. Ants alone can make up 45% of their diet. Flickers also eat berries and seeds, especially in winter, including poison oak, grape, and elderberries, as well as sunflower and thistle seeds. Flickers often break into underground ant colonies to get at the nutritious larvae there, hammering at the soil the way other woodpeckers drill into wood. One flicker’s stomach was found to contain more than 5,000 ants!

    LEFT Male | RIGHT Female “Red-shafted” Northern Flicker

    As well as eating ants, flickers exhibit a behavior known as anting, in which they use the formic acid from the ants to assist in preening, as it is useful in keeping them free of parasites.

    “Red-shafted” Male Northern Flicker

    Appearance

    This brownish-gray woodpecker, larger than an American Robin, has a black-barred back and is spangled below with black polka-dots. Easily recognized as it springs into flight, the flicker flashes a large white rump patch and bright red-colored wing linings and tail feather shafts.

    Female “Red-shafted” Northern Flicker

    Distribution

    The Northern Flicker is the most widespread woodpecker species in North America, found from the northern treeline south through the lower 48 U.S. states into Mexico, reaching into Central America as far south as northern Nicaragua. It is also found in Cuba.

    Sub-Species and Intergrades

    Ten subspecies of northern flicker are recognized with 4 sub-species in the “Yellow-shafted” form and the other 6 being in the “Red-shafted” form. At one time these two primary forms were considered two separate species called the yellow-shafted flicker (C. auratus) and the red-shafted flicker (C. cafer). But they commonly interbreed where their ranges overlap and are now considered one species by the American Ornithologists Union. The vast majority of Northern Flickers observed in the Central Valley are of the “Red-shafted” form.

    “Yellow-shafted Male” Northern Flicker
    “Yellow-shafted” Female Northern Flicker

    COOL FACT – Tale of a Tongue

    The tongues of most woodpeckers are adapted to spear and extract insects from wood, but the flicker’s tongue is a bit different — in ways advantageous for lapping up large numbers of ants.

    All woodpeckers have an elongated tongue attached to an arrangement of bones, cartilage, and muscles known as the hyoid apparatus, which wraps around the bird’s skull, ending near the rear of its eye sockets. The Northern Flicker has an extra-long tongue that can extend up to two inches past the tip of its beak. It’s the perfect tool for probing into anthills. This lengthy tongue is supported by an elongated hyoid bone, which extends into the bird’s upper mandible.

    Northern Flicker by Ken Griffiths, Shutterstock

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    Valley Goldfinches

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Birds is a photo blog series highlighting 100 common bird species found in California’s Central Valley.

    Post #7 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 11 and 12/100.)

    This is a three-fer post featuring the three species of Goldfinch that occur in the Central Valley. The first two, American Goldfinch and Lesser Goldfinch are Common Year-round Residents of the valley, while the third species, Lawrence’s Goldfinch is a Bonus Species Rare Year-round Resident here.

    AMERICAN GOLDFINCHSpinus tristis

    American Goldfinch Feeding on Black Thistle Seed | Photo by Peakpx

    Introduction

    The American Goldfinch is a Common Year-round Resident. It is one of our smallest bird species and the only pure granivore (seedeater). It is a frequent visitor to home feeders that feature Black Thistle seeds.

    Appearance

    The American Goldfinch is a sexually dimorphic species in that the males and females sport entirely different plumages. From March through September, males feature a distinctive black forehead, bright yellow bodies, black wings with white stripes and white undertail feathers.

    During the same time period, females have a pale lemony head and body with dark wings and white stripes.

    In the winter, males lose the black cap and bold yellow body feathers and molt into a pale olive-brown version of the female. Winter females take on an even paler version of the male’s winter coloration.

    Distribution

    American Goldfinches can be encountered in most wild grassy areas, especially those with thistles. Unlike the southern US, Valley American Goldfinches are sedentary and aren’t know to migrate far away from their wintering grounds.

    LESSER GOLDFINCHCarduelis psaltria

    Lesser Goldfinch – Female and Male

    The other species of Goldfinch likely to be confused with the American, is the Lesser Goldfinch. In breeding-plumaged males, the Lesser Goldfinch sports a more extensive black cap that completely surrounds the eye and has a much darker back.

    American Goldfinch Photo by Miles Moody | Lesser Goldfinch Photo by Jim Gain

    Introduction

    Lesser Goldfinches are primarily seedeaters and eat mostly small weed seeds, especially thistle. They eat some small insects in the summer, particularly aphids, which they regurgitate for their young. Lesser Goldfinches are active foragers and form flocks outside of the breeding season. They often mimic short bits of other birds’ songs, and like American Goldfinches, they often call in flight.

    Appearance

    Lesser Goldfinches are small finches with bright yellow undersides. Males have greenish-brown backs, black caps and wings with two white wing-bars, and a white patch on each wing. Their tails are black with white patches on either side, and their undertail coverts are yellow (contrasting with the white undertail coverts of American Goldfinches). Females lack the black cap and wing-bars of the males, are not as brightly colored, and lack the white on the tail; they do have white patches on each wing.

    Distribution

    Throughout much of their range, Lesser Goldfinches are permanent residents.

    BONUS BIRD: LAWRENCE’S GOLDFINCH Spinus lawrencei

    Unique among goldfinches because of its mostly gray body. Male has black forehead and throat, yellow breast, and complex black and yellow pattern on wings. It’s also a nomadic species that moves around at all times of year in search of rainfall, seeding plants, and drinking water. Though still fairly numerous within its range, Lawrence’s Goldfinch is on the Yellow Watch List for species with restricted ranges. In the Central Valley, Lawrence’s Goldfinches are Rare, but regular Year-Round Residents.

    Lawrence’s Goldfinch

    COOL FACT

    Male Lawrence’s Goldfinches don’t get their lemon yellow breeding plumage through molting. Rather, the feathers become yellower as they wear, shedding their brownish color and exposing yellow parts of the feather beneath. No other goldfinches acquire breeding plumage in this manner.

    Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series,

    Loggerhead Shrike

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

    Post #6 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 10/100.)

    The Loggerhead Shrike is a Fairly Common Resident to California’s Central Valley and can be found in grasslands, freshwater wetlands and chaparral habitats. There are 2 species of Shrike regularly found in the US, the Loggerhead Shrike and the Northern Shrike. However, the Northern Shrike is a very rare vagrant to the Central Valley.

    Loggerhead Shrike

    Valley Species of Special Concern Series

    A Species of Special Concern (SSC) is a species, subspecies, or distinct population of an animal native to the Central Valley that currently is listed as a Federal Endangered, California Endangered or California Species of Special Concern.

    Status

    Loggerhead Shrikes are currently considered a Bird Species of Special Concern (breeding), priority 2. Over their historic range, numbers are slightly declining overall with a dramatic drop in breeding populations in the southern part of the state. This species was described as common to abundant in the San Joaquin Valley in 1927 by Grinnell and Wythe, but recent Christmas Bird Count (CBC) results show an accelerated statewide decline from 1959 to 1988. (See California Bird Species of Special Concern Report)

    Loggerhead Shrike | Photo by Jim Gain

    Description

    The Loggerhead Shrike is one of two shrikes regularly found in the US, but is the most expected shrike in the Central Valley. Its close cousin, the Northern Shrike is a very rare winter visitor here with only one record in Stanislaus County. Roughly the size of a starling, this gray and white perching bird can frequently be seen along roads hanging on to a barbed-wire fence. Its large head with bold black mask distinguish the Loggerhead Shrike from the similar colored Northern Mockingbird.

    Loggerhead Shrike | Photo by Jim Gain

    Habits

    When disturbed, the Loggerhead Shrike will drop down and fly low along the ground before swooping up to gain another perch on the same fence line. The Loggerhead Shrike is quite the bold predator, often taking on large prey and then impaling it on a barbed-wire or thorn. It has been given the nickname of “butcher bird” due to this curious, yet gruesome behavior.

    Loggerhead Shrike | Photo by Jim Gain

    Distribution

    More common in the winter than in the summer, Loggerhead Shrikes can be found in open areas such as grasslands and wetlands. They can be frequently seen along the grasslands along the eastern valley roads (Merced Falls Rd., Willms Rd., Sonora Rd.) or in the grasslands and wetlands areas (Santa Fe Grade, Sandy Mush Rd.) in Merced County. Check out the eBird Loggerhead Shrike species map.

    Simliar Species

    Though very rare in the Central Valley, the Northern Shrike is very similar in appearance to the Loggerhead Shrike. Northern Shrikes are bigger than Loggerheads. Northern Shrikes have a larger, more strongly hooked bill. Other reliable marks include the Northern’s narrower black mask that usually does not continue in front of their eye (or continue above the bill), and the Northern’s more strongly barred underparts. Both these field marks can be difficult to see in the field.

    Check out the comparison between the two species below.

    Loggerhead Shrike (left) Photo by Jim Gain | Northern Shrike (right) Photo by CheepShot

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    Dark-eyed Junco

    By Jim Gain

    Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

    Post #5 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 9/100.)

    About Juncos

    The Dark-eyed Junco is a Common Winter Visitor to California’s Central Valley and can be found in many habitats. There are 2 species of Junco in the US, the Dark-eyed Junco and the Yellow-eyed Junco. However, the Yellow-eyed Junco is only found in SE Arizona and is not going to be found in the Central Valley. Check out the comparison between the two species below.

    (Left) Dark-eyed Junco | Yellow-eyed Junco (Right)

    The Dark-eyed Junco is a small, sparrow-sized bird that is in fact, a member of the sparrow family (Passerellidae). Juncos are granivorous (seed-eating) ground-dwelling birds that are almost always found in small flocks.

    Dark-eyed Junco – Male

    While it is often found in close proximity to White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows at backyard feeders, it is actually more closely related to the more secretive Fox Sparrow.

    Dark-eyed Juncos are known as habitat generalists. In the field of ecology, classifying a species as a generalist or a specialist is a way to identify what kinds of food and habitat resources it relies on to survive. Generalists can eat a variety of foods and thrive in a range of habitats. Specialists, on the other hand, have a limited diet and stricter habitat requirements. (National Geographic Resource Library)

    Dark-eyed Junco

    Appearance

    While there are several different forms (sub-species) of Dark-eyed Junco in the US, the form known as the Oregon Dark-eyed Junco is our most common form. The adult male “Oregon” Dark-eyed Junco is easily identified by its all-dark head and brown back, pale bill, white belly and white outer-tail feathers. The white outer tail feathers flash distinctively in flight and while hopping on the ground.

    The female and 1st year male “Oregon” Dark-eyed Juncos sport a more medium to light gray head, but otherwise look the same.

    Dark-eyed Junco – Female

    OTHER JUNCOS

    Some of the other forms (sub-species) of Dark-eyed Junco that may appear from time-to-time in the Central Valley include the curious all gray with a white belly Slate-colored Junco or the reddish-backed Gray-headed Junco. In SE Arizona there is a completely different species called the Yellow-eyed Junco that looks like a Gray-headed, but with yellow eyes.

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