January

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January is here and marching on. Birding has not been too exciting lately although a bit weird with geese and vultures hanging around as though it were still autumn! We have not had much luck seeing snowy owls this month either although there have been lots of red-tailed hawks around.

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Anyhow, having figured out a way to foil determined squirrels from emptying our feeders on a daily basis, I have finally officially started my backyard feeder count! I was able to record 10 varieties in the first count. It’s a good place to test my own identification skills & sure enough, just when you think you know what you’re doing, something a little odd comes along to make you think again!

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A reddish-looking finch appeared along with the Goldfinches that have been frequented the feeders this week. And it made me wonder if it was a Purple Finch or not. Turns out, thank you Google, that it was most likely a House Finch. It’s got a lot of streaking on the flanks and the shape of the upper beak which is shaped a little downwards. I found this link very helpful: http://www.pbase.com/rcm1840/purple_finch_vs_house_finch

But that wasn’t the only troublesome identification I ran into. There have been lots of Black-eyed Juncos at the feeders regularly and the biggest challenge is to try to get an accurate number as they move in and out so quickly. And then I noticed this one below. At first glance I was counting this bird as a Black-Eyed Junco but then I noticed that the colouring was different. Was it just an immature bird or something else. Anyhow, the jury is still out on this one for me. And things started getting more complicated after I read a discussion of various hybrids or varieties of Juncos! It certainly looked similar to the Cassiar Junco from the west. Interesting! So I remain confused.

http://nwbackyardbirder.blogspot.ca/2011/04/not-slate-colored-junco-cassiar-junco.html

And check out the illustrations of Juncos from this fellow who has been cataloging the range of varieties of Slate-coloured Juncos. They are lovely!

http://www.birdfellow.com/journal/2009/09/06/probable_dark_eyed_junco_x_white_throated_sparrow_hybrids

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