11 de agosto de 2020

Steiroxys Revision Beginnings

Steiroxys is a genus of shieldback katydids with currently four described species. Though we know there are many undescribed species (Caudell 1907) and though it's sister genus Idiostatus was revised (Rentz 1973) with many new species, now much work has been done on this genus. All we know is, there are many species and most probably have small ranges. I've decided to tackle this issue and use citizen science to view distinguishing features of potential species. The downside to this, I cannot be able to revise the genus with just photos naturalists posted because in order to describe a species, you must have a holotype specimen. Which means I have to go out into the field, capture and ultimately kill the insect. I can send the specimen to a museum with my description of species and only then will the science community accept my work. Right now, this is just a outline of eight potential species photographed on iNaturalist and I will tag the observers as I go.

We have additional problems with this. Out of the four described species as of now, S. trilieatus and S. pallidpalpus holotype specimens are lost so we have no clue what they look like. To add onto the problems, I cannot get a sufficient view of holotype of S. borealis to determine the distinguishing features. As mentioned by Caudell, potential species can be identified by the male's cerci, the sensory organs on the abdomen end and the shape or size of it can determine species. For females, subgenital plate shape seems to play a role in identification but since no iNaturalist observer has photographed the female underside, they are all genus level for me. So here's the list:

Steiroxys species-a

Observer: @jimmylegs
Individuals: 2 males
Range: South-central valleys of British Columbia; Kamloops Lake to Kettle River Recreation Area.
Cerci: Probably incorrect terminology but the cerci have two "prongs". The two prongs in this potential species are close to the tip of the cerci and they curve sharply inward in unison.
Notes: A lot of confusion here for this. The cerci of James's individuals are identical to Steiroxys trilieatus photographed by Dan Johnson in the website "Katydids North of Mexico". What I need to decide is whether these are a described species or Dan misidentified and his individual is a part of species-a.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/55532673
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/48959879
https://orthsoc.org/sina/330a.htm

Steiroxys species-b

Observer: @justine_dm
Individuals: 1 male
Range: White Lake Grasslands Protected Area, British Columbia.
Cerci: Compared to species-a, the inner prong is thicker, shorted and triangular-shaped. The outer prong is straight and long.
Notes: Might not be a potential species since it's a nymph.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27234583

Steiroxys species-c

Observer: @geographerdave
Individuals: 3 males
Range: Mount Saint Helens, Washington
Cerci: Short and stubby. Inner prong curves slightly and the outer prong may bend outward. The indentation between the two prongs is indistinct.
Notes: If I were to name this species... Steiroxys helenae

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16266565
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16266563
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/15961135

Steiroxys species-d

Observer: geographerdave
Individuals: 1 male
Range: Cascades near Panther Creek Falls, Washington
Cerci: Short and stubby. Almost identical to species-c but the inner prong is straight, not curved and is almost equal length of outer prong.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/55331279

Steiroxys species-e

Observer: @axyaliendragon
Individuals: 1 male
Range: Willamette National Forest near Rainbow, Oregon
Cerci: Intermediate between species-a and species-c. The prongs angle inward at a slight curve but not as distinctive as species-a. Inner prong has a more definitive prong.
Notes: I admit the cerci in the photos are kind of blurry so its possible it's not species. Could be S. strepens.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/50346899

Steiroxys species-f

Observer: jimmylegs
Individuals: 2 males
Range: North Shasta Mountains, California
Cerci: Cerci enormous with the two prongs exceptionally curved and they'll meet in the middle.
Notes: This could be a new species but this part of California is within the proposed range limits of S. borealis. Unfortunately the provided photo on Orthoptera Species Files (OSF) regarding the holotype does not clearly show the cerci.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/45973643
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/45973620

Steiroxys species-g

Observer: birdwhisperer (myself), @coreyjlange and @birdernaturalist
Individuals: 3 males
Range: Eastern Oregon
Cerci: Identical to species-a but the inner prong is placed near the base of the cerci not near the tip. This type of cerci shape occurs in three in the same general vicinity leaving me to believe it is indeed different from species-a.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56099976
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16191058
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16661120

Stieroxys species-h

Observer: Heidi (BugGuide user)
Individuals: 1 male
Range: Lucky Peak near Boise, Idaho
Cerci:: Similar to species-i, long, mostly straight prongs though the outer prong has a slight arch to it.

https://bugguide.net/node/view/500769/bgimage

Steiroxys species-i

Observer: @maybedre
Individuals: 1 male
Range: Atla, Utah
Cerci: Short and straight, very similar to species-d but the outer prong is significantly longer than the inner.
Notes: This sighting is well within the proposed range of S. pallidpalpus but since the holotype specimen has been lost, I cannot confirm if the cerci are correct.

Summary: So there you go, 8 potential species. I hope with help of James, we can collect a few specimens and clear up the waters of this genus. I'm expecting quite a few more species to show up since we do not know which species live in Montana, Colorado, Idaho, eastern Washington and species limits throughout the Cascades. I wouldn't be surprised if the number doubles. Through citizen science, we can make plans on where to go to find species and that's what makes iNaturalist such a great platform for a project like this.

Ingresado el 11 de agosto de 2020 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de mayo de 2020

My Goals as a Biologists

I'm not quite a wildlife biologists, just a college freshman, but that doesn't mean I have goals. Here's a list of goals I want to acquire as a biologist.

  1. Confirm through vocalizations and plumage markers that the Song Sparrow subspecies merrilli range extends much further south than originally believed and the intergrade zone with montana is much larger than previously suspected.
  2. Redefine the plumage features of Song Sparrow subspecies montana and show how they are visually more similar to the nominate than coastal subspecies.
  3. Confirm through nuclei and mitochondria DNA testing that the Barbary Dove is a domesticated hybrid between the African and Eurasian Collared-Dove.
  4. Find and study nesting sites of Red-tailed Hawks in western Canada to confirm the validity of the subspecies abieticola and establish the percentage of intergradation with Harlan's Hawk.
  5. Do studies on vocalizations of Pacific Pseudacris and see if there's any evidence beyond mtDNA testing that the Pacific Tree Frog complex is indeed three separate species.
  6. Study breeding populations of Mexican and Central American Red-tailed Hawks to provide more accurate data on the distribution of subspecific population and show what features to use for identification.
  7. Provide a detailed guide on the distribution and identification of Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets or Katydids) in the Pacific Northwest through citizen science projects.
  8. Create a roadkill survey citizen science project to see what measures we can take to minimize deaths on the roads.
  9. Use GPS tracking to find wintering ranges of South American avian species, previously unknown such as the Antillean Nighthawk or Mexican martins.
  10. Explore the variation extend of the Bewick's and Whistling Swan and use yellow loral percentages to determine what can be called an intergrade.

Ingresado el 12 de mayo de 2020 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de enero de 2020

Identifying Mexican and Central American Red-tailed Hawks

Recently, I've made several posts in regards to Red-tailed Hawks and it's subspecies. In my first journal post, "Identifying US and Canada Red-tailed Hawks", I explained in thorough detail the differences between Red-tailed Hawk subspecies in that area. I've had thoughts to do a similar post for countries not mentioned above as well and now I'm doing it. But also note that Mexican, Caribbean and Central American Red-tails are very ill-studied and future research may prove invalidity of subspecies or more depending on what researchers find. INaturalist is a great platform to find out the variety of the species so perhaps a little description of each subspecies may help users. All information used here is gathered from photos on iNat/ebird and research papers (usually the describing paper) in regards to the subspecies. Here we go!

Non-Migratory Caribbean Subspecies

The Red-tailed Hawk lives on nearly every island in the Greater Antillean and are vagrant to the Lesser Antillean (probably US migrants though). There are 2 subspecies.

Jamaican Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis jamaicensis)

Range: Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and norther Lesser Antillean Islands

Head: Normally rich brown with no markings. Throat is dark.

Upperparts: Same brown as head with blackish-brown mottling. White scapular mottling light.

Underparts: Bellyband variable from lightly to heavily-marked. Bellyband is normally blackish and often has barring. Rufous wash often occurs on the sides of the breast. Legs are typically unmarked. Breast and legs are white but can have a buff wash.

Wings: Patagials very thin and often has white markings encroaching on it.

Tail: Tail lacks tail banding and subterminal band is very thin. White uppertail coverts.

Morphs: Only light

Juvenile: Heavily marked below, white breast and considerable amount of white in the face.

Notes: Nominate subspecies, described in 1788. Comparing photos on iNat and eBird, I believe there's a good chance there might be geographic variation in the subspecies. I noticed individuals in Jamaica had very thin patagials and lightly to moderately marked bellybands. However, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico hawks, nearly every individual had incredible heavy bellybands, some where the entire belly was black. Patagials were also thicker and breast had rufous, not buff, tones. Subterminal band also appears broader in Puerto Rican individuals. I suspect some research needs to be done.

Photos: (1) Lightly-marked Jamaican Red-tailed Hawk -- Jamaican form (2) Moderately-marked, thick patagial Jamaican Red-tailed Hawk -- Hispaniola form (3) Heavily-marked, thick patagial Jamaican Red-tailed Hawk -- Puerto Rican form (4) Juvenile Jamaican Red-tailed Hawk -- Hispaniolan form

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/162664901#_ga=2.227092125.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/38523631#_ga=2.203165585.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/55235571#_ga=2.25765437.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/107772881#_ga=2.198387631.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889

Cuban Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. solitudinis))

Range: Cuba, Bahamas and Isle of Pines.

Head: Quite variable. Most common head pattern is a rich brown unmarked head with dark throat but can have a darker malar or white throat. Some Bahama individuals have very pale, "washed out" heads.

Upperparts: Variable but is usually a shade darker than the head. White scapular mottling light to heavy depending on the darkness of the upperparts/head.

Underparts: Light to moderately-marked bellyband with rufous (Cuba) or white (Bahamas) breast. Rufous wash can occur on the sides of the breast. Rufous wash is usually present in the bellyband. Barring uncommon and does not occur on flanks.

Wings: Moderately prominent patagials, white unmarked underwing coverts.

Tail: Subterminal band moderately thick and red tail is usually lacks banding.

Morphs: Only light

Juvenile: Moderately to heavy bellybands with black markings on the sides of the breast making an incomplete breast band.

Notes: Appears to differ from jamaicensis by having thicker patagials, broader subterminal band and lighter bellybands. They are also darker dorsally and head coloring is more variable. Also keep in mind that Bahama individuals appear to be more variable than Cuban individuals and it may suggest geographical variantion but the variations are not nearly to the extent of jamaicensis on their islands.

Photos: (1) Heavily-marked, rufous-breasted Cuban Red-tailed Hawk -- Cuba form (2) Moderately-marked, rufous-breasted Cuban Red-tailed Hawk -- Cuba form (3) Pale-headed Cuban Red-tailed Hawk -- Bahamas form (4) Moderately-marked, bellyband washed Cuban Red-tailed Hawk -- Bahamas form (5) Heavily-marked, incomplete breast-banded juvenile Cuban Red-tailed Hawk -- Bahamas form

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/88368911#_ga=2.160507837.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/129586231#_ga=2.230238876.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/31512851#_ga=2.127675277.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/106931881#_ga=2.127675277.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/106447751#_ga=2.193553197.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889

Non-Migratory Central American Subspecies

Central American hosts 7-8 different subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk and the variation between them is amazing. Also note that most non-migratory Central American subspecies are residents of the mountains and highlands. If you happen to see a Red-tailed in the lowlands, it's probably a migrant from the US.

Western Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. calurus)

Range: Resident and breeder to Baja California. Winter visitor throughout Mexico but recent evidence suggests that they migrate and winter all the way to Panama.

Head: Throat mostly dark, some have streaked, collared or white throats and these variations seem to occur more often in northern Canadian breeding areas or southwestern US deserts.

Upperparts: Very dark brown, white scapular mottling is light and barely visible comparative to other subspecies, however it is visible enough to use as an id feature to distinguish from other Buteo species.

Underparts: Perhaps the most variable subspecies in terms of underpart markings. Bellyband can vary from a few streaks and barring on the flanks to a thick black band across the belly with barring extending into the breast. Though typical bellybands have barring on the flanks and belly.

Wings: Almost all individuals have tawny or rufous underwings that contrast with the whit remiges. Patagials are dark and noticeably thick, making a huge "U" shape cut on the humerus region. If the bird is in wing, these two features are key to whether your Red-tailed is Western or not.

Tail: Incredibly variable from the "classic" all red-tail with thin subterminal band to a thickly banded tail with no distinct subterminal band. Also note where the wingtips end on the tail. Eastern/Northern Red-tails have wingtips barely extending past the uppertail coverts while calurus can extend from midway across the tail to the tail tips.

Morphs: Light, Rufous, Intermediate (only juveniles) and Dark. However light morphs dominate other morphs and from a compilation of photos I did for research about 96% of all calurus Red-tails are light morphs and 3% are rufous morphs.

Juvenile: Throat usually dark but younger individuals may have white throats that resemble borealis or abieticola. To distinguish light morphs from other subspecies, look for heavily marked bellyband and underwings. Only subspecies that have intermediate and dark morphs which is heavy markings on the breast (intermediate) or black underparts with white streaking, similar to Harlan's juveniles (dark).

Photos: (1) Dark-throated moderately-marked light morph calurus. (2) Tawny-breasted heavily-marked light morph calurus. (3) Lightly-marked calurus. (4) Dark morph juvenile calurus. (5) Heavily-marked rufous morph calurus. (6) Lightly-marked rufous morph calurus. (7) Flying molting very lightly-marked light morph calurus -- note thick patagials. (8) Flying typical light-morph calurus. (9) Flying dark morph calurus -- note that this was a breeder I observed all season and if you see something like this in the field and this is your only shot, best identify it as rufous/dark morph. (10) Dark morph calurus with very thick subterminal band.

Fuertes or Southwestern Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. fuertesi)

Range: Throughout northern Mexico with the range limits believing to be Durango and Tamaulipas.

Upperparts: Light to moderate whitish or buff scapular mottling.

Underparts: Very little to no bellyband and if markings do show, it's only two or three streaking marks. Western Mexican (aka Arizona) individuals appear to have more streaking (more being visually similar to a very lightly marked borealis) and even barring on rufous washed flanks.

Wings: Underwings completely white with the exception of thin but dark patagials and "chevrons" where the primary coverts end.

Tail: Tail is pale red with a thin subterminal band.

Morphs: Only light morphs.

Juvenile: Similar to borealis but with longer wings and bellyband has a distinct "V" shaped patterning where borealis is just streaking.

Notes: It is disputed if this is even a subspecies or just another form of borealis.

Photos: (1) Arizona fuertesi -- note slight rufous wash. (2) Arizona fuertesi on the far end of markings. (3) Flying Texas fuertesi on the far end of markings. (4) Flying Arizona fuertesi.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114896381#_ga=2.196605423.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/22509541#_ga=2.226865246.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/40878611#_ga=2.28777087.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/20812731#_ga=2.250607045.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Sutton's Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. suttoni)

Range: Sierra de San Lazaro of Baja California

Head: Rich brown with dark throat or white throat.

Upperparts: Richly mottled upperparts with white scapular mottling light to moderate.

Underparts: Very little markings to the bellyband or can be absent overall. Typically has a rufous wash to the breast.

Wings: Dark, thick patagials with slight rufous wash to underwings.

Tail: Appears to be variable from brick red with very thin subterminal band to maroon with dense tail banding.

Morphs: Light and possibly dark.

Juvenile: Probably similar to calurus.

Notes: This is an incredibly understudied subspecies and perhaps not a subspecies. Neither iNaturalist nor eBird recognize the taxon but Avibase and Handbook of Birds of the World (HBW) however too. It is possible the subspecies is not well recognized because it was described by Dickerman (1993), quite some time after the American Ornithological Society (AOS) stopped doing assessments in their taxonomic updates. In a nutshell, the description of the subspecies was morphically intermediate between calurus and fuertesi, and measurably smaller. You can read what Dickerman said here -- https://www.jstor.org/stable/30054375?seq=1

Photos: (1) Possible Sutton's Red-tailed Hawk, note almost no bellyband. (2) Possible Sutton's Red-tailed Hawk, note rufous-washed breast. (3) Flying possible Sutton's Red-tailed Hawk.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/66238481#_ga=2.131334927.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/180248911#_ga=2.24674746.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/141637341#_ga=2.231892639.1609460285.1574228334-1175263981.1555651889

Mexican Highlands Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. hadropus

Range: Varies by source. Presumed to be Mexican Highlands from Jalisco and Veracruz to Oaxaca. See notes.

Head: Rich rufous-brown with darker malar. White throat normally with collar.

Upperparts: Moderate to heavy white scapular mottling. Upperparts are a strong gray-brown.

Underparts: Light bellyband with dark teardrop-shaped streaking, though an absent bellyband (see notes) is not unusual. Flanks are very contrasting rufous compared to buff or white underparts.

Wings: Dark but thin patagials with rich buff underwings coverts. Banded remiges are well visible both dorsally and ventrally.

Tail: Variable in tail banding and color but it appears the main feature is, is that the 'subterminal band' is actually the tail tips with no visible red or white below the band.

Morphs: Light, rufous and dark. Differs from calurus rufous/dark morphs with white scapular mottling and black terminal band. See notes.

Juvenile: Unknown. See notes.

Notes: Incredibly understudied subspecies. The only published paper on the subspecies is the description paper (Storer 1962). He describes the range as being Jalisco to Oaxaca. Avibase and HBW claim the range goes to east coast of Veracurz. However no ebird photos of breeding Red-tails in hadropus purpose range show any of the features Storer claimed to be diagnostic. The individuals photographed in Jalisco, Guerrero and Socorro looked very much like kemsiesi or perhaps fuertesi. However a photo in Veracruz shows a Red-tailed that shows every feature Storer described in his paper and the features appeared to be consistent with all Veracruz and Puebla individuals. It is possible that hardropus is an eastern Mexican subspecies not western. However, a breeding dark morph individual was photographed in Guerrero and a rufous morph in Veracruz. Storer reported both hadropus and kemsiesi having dark morphs and we know fuertesi only occurs in light morph. So assuming that western Mexican Red-tails are not hadropus, it can be hypothesized that kemsiesi is not geographically separated by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as originally believed and is the subspecies breeding from Jalisco to Nicaragua. Also in support of this hypothesis is the fact no hadropus individuals were photographed in western Mexico and vice versa for eastern Mexico. In southern Mexico, only one juvenile has been photographed in Puebla, subspecies undetermined but it may possibly be hadropus. The individual showed a heavy bellyband, dark throat, broader patagials and barred flanks. You can read Storer's paper here: https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/condor/v064n01/p0077-p0078.pdf

Photos: (1) Adult Veracruz Mexican Highlands Red-tailed Hawk that appears almost identical to Red-tailed Storer described. (2) Adult Veracruz rufous morph probably Mexican Highlands Red-tailed Hawk. (3) Adult Michoacán kemsiesi/hadropus Red-tailed Hawk. By range it should hadropus but it appears eerily similar to kemsiesi. Look up proceeding subspecies to compare photos. (4) Adult Michoacán dark morph kemsiesi/hadropus Red-tailed Hawk. Note tail tips is the subterminal band. (5) Colima kemsiesi/hadropus Red-tailed Hawk, note again the subterminal band. (6) Puebla juveniles kemsiesi/hadropus Red-tailed Hawk.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109677071#_ga=2.111764932.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/169673331#_ga=2.224944346.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/61597241#_ga=2.124291402.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/106854071#_ga=2.188246760.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/167437601#_ga=2.152134265.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/31544241#_ga=2.213606740.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889

Kemsies Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. kemsiesi)

Warning! Theoretically, there is no "common name" for this subspecies but every other subspecies besides this one does and Kemsies is the Latin translation of the scientific name (Kemsies was a Yellowstone park ranger). I'm wondering if a better name can be applied such as the Sierra Madre Red-tailed Hawk to describe it's range.

Range: Chiapas, Mexico to northern Nicaragua. Though photographic evidence suggests that the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is a geographic "break" in their breeding range and they may live all the way up into Jalisco. See notes.

Head: Dark brown. Differs from other subspecies with dark auricular and cheek, not malar.

Upperparts: Light to moderate white scapular markings. Very dark charcoal-brown upperparts.

Underparts: Buff or white underparts with little or no bellyband. Whatever streaking they may have will be more prominent on the flanks. Belly can have a rufous wash that forms a "bellyband".

Wings: Patagials dark and moderately thick. Buff unmarked underwing coverts. Remiges are prominently banded both ventrally and dorsally.

Tail: Variable from brick red to pale chestnut-red. Subterminal band broad and prominent. Tail banding not uncommon. Uppertail coverts are whitish including bases to interior rectrices.

Morphs: Light, rufous and dark. See notes.

Juvenile: Variable, not studied hard so differences from other subspecies is uncertain.

Notes: Photograph evidence suggests that the subspecies range is not restricted the Nicaragua lowlands and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and it may very well breed in western Mexico. Second issue about range is that most authorities claim kemsiesi range ends in Nicaragua but ebird reports that subspecies costaricensis is the expected subspecies for Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua and kemiesi being rare. However I cannot find any individuals photographed and identified as costaricensis appearing similar to "real" costaricensis in their breeding range in Costa Rica and Panama. Most of the reporting are probably misidentifications. They are variable in morphs and there appears to be quite a few rufous and dark morph breeders in their range. However it has been undetermined how dark morphs differ from hadropus. Dark morphs do differ from calurus with white scapular markings not buff or solid brown. Rufous morph differences are unknown as well. Juveniles are hard to place on subspecies especially when most juveniles photographed in the subspecies range are in spring, suggestable that some may not be resident birds. Further study is needed to determine differences.

Photos: (1) Adult Chiapas Kemsies Red-tailed Hawk -- textbook example. (2) Adult Guatemala Kemsies Red-tailed Hawk. (3) Adult Guatemala Kemsies Red-tailed Hawk. (4) Adult Honduras kemsiesi/costaricensis Red-tailed Hawk -- this bird was identified as costaricensis on ebird however I see no features supporting it. (5) Juvenile El Salvador kemsiesi/costaricensis Red-tailed Hawk

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/138491501#_ga=2.174818018.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/158952051#_ga=2.212412884.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/106475491#_ga=2.191522538.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/22208401#_ga=2.224013915.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109084891#_ga=2.178817764.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889

Costa Rican Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. costaricensis)

Range: Though all authorities (including the Clements Checklists) claim this subspecies range to be Costa Rica and western Panama, ebird reports having this subspecies being the expected subspecies throughout central America from Honduras and El Salvador to Panama, though it is expected that most if not all the sightings north of Costa Rica are actually kemsiesi.

Head: Solid rich brown-rufous. Collared throat, often with brown streaking on the white throat. Throat can be almost solid brown.

Upperparts: Light to almost no white scapular mottling. Very dark charcoal-brown upperparts with dark feather tips, giving a mottled appearance.

Underparts: Unique to the subspecies. White breast and very rufous-pink (like rotisserie chicken color, there I said it) belly. If a bellyband is present, it is lightly marked and the markings on the contrast line of the white breast and rufous belly.

Wings: Dark, thick patagials with rich rufous underwing coverts, identical in color with belly and in flight, makes the white breast more distinctive. Remiges are prominently banded.

Tail: Not quite as variable as other subspecies, seems to be relatively consistent for the tail to be between rotisserie chicken rufous to slightly redder but not quite the classic brick red. Tail normally has no subterminal band but a broken or thin subterminal band can be present in some individuals.

Morphs: Light

Juvenile: Like adults except throat is whiter. Bellyband can be heavy but the markings are pale. There is prominent streaking dribbling into the sides of the breast.

Notes: This is perhaps the most unique-looking subspecies in the entire Red-tailed spectrum.

Photos: (1) Adult Costa Rican Red-tailed Hawk. (2) Adult Costa Rican Red-tailed Hawk flying. (3) Rotisserie-colored Costa Rican Red-tailed Hawk. (4) Juvenile Costa Rican Red-tailed Hawk

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/30417271#_ga=2.125471050.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/58612971#_ga=2.118759753.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/34359881#_ga=2.211914324.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/153568961#_ga=2.117137862.1963945058.1577381479-1175263981.1555651889

Mexican Island Endemic Subspecies

There are two subspecies of Red-tailed Hawks that are endemic, meaning they live nowhere else, to offshore Pacific Islands in Mexico.

Tres Marias or Smoky-colored Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. fumosus)

Range: Tres Marias Island chain off the coast of Nayarit.

Head: Dark brown overall, including throat.

Upperparts: No scapular mottling. Dark brown upperparts the same color as the head.

Underparts: Dark brown-rufous mottled breast with rufous barring belly and flanks.

Wings: Dark, thick patagials with heavily marked underwing coverts.

Tail: Fairly consistent, rufous tail with thin or no subterminal band.

Morph: Rufous

Juvenile: Like adults except throat is white and collared and tail is finely banded.

Notes: Understudied subspecies as very few photos have been obtained (ebird has none). It may be possible that light or dark morphs exist but because of it's range isolation it is hard to obtain photos. To our current knowledge, only "rufous" morphs exist and is explanatory to the secondary name Smoky-colored Red-tailed Hawk.

Photos: (1) Adult Tres Marias Red-tailed Hawk. (2) Flying adult Tres Marias Red-tailed Hawk. (3) Juvenile Tres Marias Red-tailed Hawk.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/5274184
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/350811
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30759604

Socorro Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. socorroensis)

Range: Socorro Island off the coast of Colima

Head: Solid brown, best described in my words as the discoloration in old milk chocolate.

Upperparts: Solid brown like the head with no scapular mottling.

Underparts: Bellyband lightly-marked with smoky-tawny underparts.

Wings: Unknown in rufous morphs. Dark morphs have solid dark underwing coverts.

Tail: Unmarked brick red tail with very broad subterminal band. Uppertail covert color unknown.

Morph: Light morphs (only juveniles), rufous and dark, though dark appears much more common.

Juvenile: Much more variation than adults. Intermediate morphs appear most common and have a arid dirt color with pale spotting on the marginal coverts. Light morphs are very heavily-marked with only a small patch of the breast white. Some appear to have very heavy upperpart spotting while others show scalloped marginal coverts.

Notes: Understudied subspecies and only photos of the subspecies occur on iNat. It's possible that light morph adults exist but range isolation and sensitivity limit a person's ability to study them.

Photos: (1) Adult dark morph Socorro Red-tailed Hawk. (2) Adult lightly-marked rufous morph Socorro Red-tailed Hawk. (3) Flying adult dark morph Socorro Red-tailed Hawk. (4) Juvenile intermediate morph Socorro Red-tailed Hawk. (5) Juvenile spotted Socorro Red-tailed Hawk

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/7454181
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/13893705
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/13893690
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/25413752
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30520000

Migratory Subspecies

There are several subspecies that migrate into Mexico and Central America but do not breed in area. There are three migratory or wintering subspecies.

Eastern Red-tailed Hawk -- Buteo jamaicensis borealis

Range: Confirmed sightings includes several in Costa Rica, Tamaulipas, Quintana Roo and Cayman Islands, but probably migrates throughout Central America, eastern Mexico and Greater Antillean.

Head: White supercilium is common. Throat is usually white, streaked or collared; dark throat is rare. Malar/cheek region usually dark.

Upperparts: Scapulars are moderately to heavily mottled white.

Underparts: Lightly to moderately marked bellyband. Barring occurs often on the flanks, rarely anywhere else. Breast almost always white but tawny does occur.

Wings: No rufous on the underwings. Patagials are thin or dull. Limited underwing markings.

Tail: Nearly all individuals have white uppertail coverts. Subterminal band thin to moderate. Partial or incompletely tail banding is uncommon. Nearly all individuals have white tips to the tail.

Morphs: Only light.

Juvenile: Throat almost always white, supercilium often white, bellyband light to moderately-marked.

Photos -- (1) Clear-cut example of borealis. (2) Lightly-marked streak-throated borealis. (3) Clear-cut flying example of borealis. (4) Flying moderately-marked streak-throated borealis.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/35716511#_ga=2.25563518.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/51359071#_ga=2.267893197.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/49386431#_ga=2.230545887.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/96071241#_ga=2.65992173.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Krider's Hawk -- B. j. kriderii

Range: No confirmed reports in Mexico or Central America but there are many sightings along the Rio Grande in Texas, and water isn't hard to cross for hawks.

Head: Varies but is normally very whitish. Palest form has nearly completely white head. Darkest form has dark cheek and crown.

Upperparts: Heavy white scapular mottling and scalloping pattern is well defined on the rest of the upperparts.

Underparts: Little to no markings on the underparts and whatever markings an individual may have will be a few streaking. Underparts may have a buffy look, especially when compared side-by-side with the incredibly similar light morph Harlan's.

Wings: Patagials nearly none existent and thin with completely white underwing coverts. When compared to Harlan's look for buffy underparts, banded remiges and reddish-white tail with no other markings.

Tail: Variable with half of the tail being red to completely white. If the rectrices have a white base and reddish tail extends past half the tail, that's a solid candidate for Eastern X Krider's intergrade.

Morphs: Light only.

Juvenile: Heads are typically whiter than adults and white upperparts mottling is even more noticeable. Tail with whitish with banding.

Photos -- (1) Dark Krider's Hawk. (2) Lightest form Krider's. (3) Flying intermediately dark Krider's -- note buffy underwings. (4) Juvenile Krider's. (5) Flying juvenile Krider's.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109267071#_ga=2.59160046.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/30529471#_ga=2.221634011.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109377501#_ga=2.24056441.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/37820921#_ga=2.223885528.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/76574721#_ga=2.223885528.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Harlan's Hawk -- B. j. harlani

Range: Only two confirmed sightings in Mexico (Baja California Sur and Durango) but there are many sighting along the Rio Grande so it's easy to assume they winter in Tamaulipas.

Overall body difference: Besides I find Harlan's such a unique bird, I'm not going to go through all the body part features. All you need to know is; they are either black and white or cool brown and white, tail is incredibly variable from reddish mottled to brown mottling to white with reddish tip. Light morph adults can appear incredibly similar Krider's and are often misidentified in Western US but they differ with colder brown tones, white tail with mottled tail (usually in light morphs) and lack of buffy underwings. Harlan's also frequently show unbanded remiges and thicker patagials. Some Harlan's have Some juveniles can appear very calurus-looking but they differ with having "V" shaped tail banding.

Morphs: Around 84% are dark morph or intermediate morphs and the rest are light.

Photos -- (1) Light morph Harlan's. (2) White-spotted dark morph Harlan's. (3) Same dark morph Harlan's but shows awesome tail pattern. (4) Intermediate morph Harlan's. (5) Flying juvenile intermediate morph Harlan's. (6) Dark morph Harlan's.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/73157161#_ga=2.28774783.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/126158571#_ga=2.58512745.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/126158351
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114075691#_ga=2.267317709.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/84836181#_ga=2.65919597.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/119476081#_ga=2.65919597.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Final Words and Overview

So there you go, all 15 Mexican, Central American or Caribbean Red-tailed Hawk subspecies. Most of endemic, non-migratory subspecies are poorly studied and as new information comes forth, we can better understand them. I believe iNaturalist is a great platform to find out this research and it appears we have a very strong Mexican community compared to ebird.

I believe that southwestern Mexico should be a place closely observed to see if it's true that Kemises' Red-tails really do reside there, along with Baja California Sur and see if the Sutton's Red-tailed really deserves subspecies status.

Also, another shoutout to all of those contributing their sightings and sharing their thoughts on subspecific ids. I hope this post will help you feel just a little more confident in identifying Red-tails.

Literature Sourced:

  • Clark, William S. (2014) -- Harlan's Hawk differs from Red-tailed Hawk, especially in plumages
  • Dickerman, Robert W. (1994) -- Undescribed Subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk from Baja California
  • Ligouri, Jerry (2004) -- Dark Red-tailed Hawks
  • Ligouri, Jerry and Brian L. Sullivan (2010) -- A Study of Krider's Red-tailed Hawk
  • Ligouri, Jerry and Brian L. Sullivan (2014) -- Comparison of Harlan's with Western and Eastern Red-tailed Hawks
  • Storer, Robert W. (1962) -- Variation in the Red-tailed Hawks of Southern Mexico and Central America
  • Wheeler, Brian K. (2018) -- Birds of Prey of the East
  • Wheeler, Brian K. (2018) -- Birds of Prey of the West

Ingresado el 23 de enero de 2020 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de diciembre de 2019

My 2019 Birding Year

Year Total: 255 species
Life List: 330 species

Best Month: August 146 species
Worst Month: February 74 species

State Stats (Year and Life)

Oregon: 218 245
Washington: 135 271
Idaho: 116 167
Utah: 83 105
Colorado: 67 94

New Counties Visited

Oregon -- Harney, Grant and Gilliam
Washington -- Klickitat
Idaho -- Adams, Gooding, Boise, Jerome, Lewis, Elmore, Cassia, Oneida, Benewah and Minidoka
Utah -- Duchesne and Summit

Year Lifers: Harris’s Sparrow, Mute Swan, White-headed Woodpecker, Juniper Titmouse, Summer Tanager, Black Phoebe, Indigo Bunting, Snowy Egret, White-winged Crossbill, Broad-billed Hummingbird and Red-shouldered Hawk

Big Sightings and Memorable Moments of the Year:

House Finch -- January 4, Union County, Oregon -- I was able to hand catch a House Finch with Finch Eye Disease (Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis) and take it to a rehab for treatment. Unfortunately after a successful treatment, the infection came back and the bird didn’t make it.

Osprey and Bald Eagle -- April 3, Ada County, Idaho -- Watched a spectacular show of an Osprey trying to keep his fish away from the eagle.

Prairie Falcon -- April 3, Ada County, Idaho -- Saw a pair building a nest in an isolated location.

Great Gray Owl -- May 18 and 23, Washington and Oregon -- After three years of searching, I finally got to see not one but two nests with young it. Thanks to those who helped me find the nest.

Summer Tanager -- June 20, Mesa County, Colorado -- Rarity for location and lifer!

Indigo X Lazuli Bunting -- June 23, Mesa County, Colorado -- Found while trying to find an Indigo Bunting.

White-faced Ibis -- June 25, Box Elder County, Utah -- Exact count of 716 ibises that day.

Swainson’s Hawk -- August 1, Union County, Oregon -- Fledgling day for the pair that nested in my yard.

Red-tailed Hawk -- August 6, Benton County, Washington -- Leucistic

Great Egret -- September 5, Union County, Oregon -- Found a county high count of 52 birds!

Indian Peafowl -- September 13, Union County, Oregon -- Male and three females crossed the highway at Catherine Creek SP. Still wondering what they were doing in a National Forest.

Broad-billed Hummingbird -- September 19, Harney County, Oregon -- 3rd Oregon record and gorgeous bird.

Lesser Black-backed Gull -- December 7, Asotin County, Washington -- 2nd Life sighting.

Red-shouldered Hawk -- December 7 and 22, Wallowa County, Oregon -- 1st ever record of the species in the county!

Barred Owl -- December 13, Ada County, Idaho -- First photos and my first daylight sighting.

Ingresado el 31 de diciembre de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

03 de diciembre de 2019

Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola) as a Distinct Subspecies

Introduction and Background
One of the most complicated discussions in the world of Red-tailed Hawks is the validity of the Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola). Ever since it was described over seventy years ago (Todd 1950), the Canadian Red-tailed population has been on a seesaw of being a separate distinct subspecies or a heavily marked type of the Eastern Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. borealis).

The subspecies was described in 1950 by W.E. Clyde Todd where he collected 10 abieticola and borealis specimens in Canada and noted how the northern populations was like borealis but "underparts more heavily streaked; throat and upper breast darker colored (more brownish, less rufescent); upperparts (including wings externally) darker colored (more blackish); and subterminal black band on tail averaging wider."

The American Ornithological Society declined the acknowledge of the subspecies in their last subspecies assessment in 1957 and ending the age of looking for geographical variation in field work. Thirty years later, Dickerman and Parkes (1987) published a more thorough paper on abieticola and supported Todd's hypothesis that indeed a northern population existed. It also explain explained how the northern populations differed from borealis and calurus. Dickerman and Parkes also stated that many "calurus" identified in eastern US were in fact abieticola. Field guides that list subspecies (Wheeler 2003, Pyle 2008, Stokes 2010) in the past have also failed to acknowledged a distinct population in Canada. At one point, abieticola was even considered an intergrade between borealis and calurus (Clark and Wheeler 1997, Wheeler 2004). For the space of sixty-three years, abieticola was just considered a more heavily-marked borealis and just that. In 2010, ebird finally recognized abieticola and added it as a taxon. Starting 2013 and still is today, Avibase has considered abieticola as a form of Western Red-tailed Hawk (B. j. calurus).

Light was finally shed on the abieticola case when Ligouri and Sullivan (2014) explored the topic and give a thorough discussion on the population. After spending some time explaining how abieticola differs from other subspecies. The reason the subspecies has gotten so much bad publicity in the past is due to the fact we know nothing about their nesting and to the extents of their breeding range so to assume that more heavily-marked individuals are from Canada is a narrow-minded hypothesis.

Wheeler (2018) goes in depth with the discussion claiming that abieticola was nothing more than a type of borealis due to lack of breeding data, borealis in the US showing just as heavily marked individuals in breeding season and Canadian intergradation between calurus and harlani has made heavily marked hawks more common in boreal forests.

Identification

Despite the information presented above, I will proceed to educate you in the identification of abieticola. The description I have provided is a direct quote from my other journal post "Identifying US and Canada Red-tailed Hawks" as it goes in depth what's expected in the subspecies or not.

Head: Dark head. Throat streaked, collared or dark. Darker cheek normal.

Upperparts: Light to moderate white mottling on the scapulars.

Underparts: Bellyband moderately to heavily-marked and always black or very brown black, with each streak resembling an arrow shape. Barring often occurs if the bellyband is moderate. Legs are often unbarred. Breast white but can often be tawny or rufous and these individuals often appear incredibly similar to heavily-marked rufous morph Westerns (calurus). Sides of the breast often have black "dribbling" marks.

Wings: Little to no rufous on lighter morphs, but often heavily rufous on rufous-breasted individuals. Patagials thin but darker than normal borealis. Well defined trailing edge. Underwing coverts are almost always whiter than breast with the exception being intergradation with calurus.

Tail: Similar to borealis except with a broader subterminal band and they are more likely to show partial or complete tail banding.

Morphs: Mostly light but rufous have occurred. Dark morphs are hypothesized.

Juvenile: Nearly identical to borealis but with more variance, including more heavily marked underparts.

Distribution

It is believed that abieticola breeds across the boreal forest across Canada from Yukon to northeastern US. There is one confirmed sighting in California from raptor biologist and eBird admin Brian Sullivan who noted in his observation, "In all likelihood abieticola winters sparingly throughout the West, probably similar to harlani in this regard." Another abieticola was spotted by raptor biologist and colleague of Sullivan, Jerry Ligouri, in Utah.

Pit Falls in Wheeler's Work

I've had many hours of discussion with many raptor experts on the status of abieticola and I get very complex and differing statements. Several believe it's borealis due to inconsistency in diagnostic features, lack of breeding data and southern birds showing heavier bellybands. And it appears these experts are agreeing with Wheeler's statement "The 'Eastern' subspecies exhibits considerably more plumage variation than previously described or depicted in any publication." He goes on to further explain he figured this out by looking at museum specimens.

I believe this is the first pitfall in Wheeler's work is providing a modern example showing that borealis can indeed be more heavily-marked. He failed to provide photographic evidence pertaining to southern Red-tails exhibiting the heavy bellyband. In his final remarks on abieticola he does provide four photos from Canada that are Eastern-type hawks. I believe his purpose was to show that light-marked individuals can be found in northern Canada but it still doesn't answer my question, what about heavily-marked borealis?

I did find one iNaturalist sighting for a Tennessee Red-tailed Hawk in May. I have posted the observation link below. I can see how one might argue and claim this is a abieticola because of the black bellyband, dark throat and thick patagials. Not to mention it's breeding season and it's way out of its "breeding range". Despite the similarities this individual shares with northern populations, there's two solid features here that's telling me it's an abieticola. One, is that there is nearly no streaking on the sides of the breast and what there is, is not black as it should. Secondly, the subspecies is known to have broad subterminal bands despite the very thin one this individual is showing. So in a nutshell, I agree with Wheeler that borealis are indeed much more variable than previously believed but the features a heavily-marked individual has is still differing from northern populations. I will even mention, if this was an abieticola it doesn't mean it's not a nod to the subspecies being invalid. Let's remember in 2010, a Harlan's Hawk was found breeding with a Red-tailed in North Dakota when it's "breeding" range only a decade ago was only Alaska.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/25472293

I think the second mistake is claiming that northern Red-tails are exhibiting heavier bellyband due to intergradation with calurus. However, if that were true, why are we not seeing abieticola-like individuals in eastern Colorado. The Colorado Rocky Mountain front has been known for years as a heavy intergradation zone for calurus and borealis, yet we are not seeing these blobby bellyband individuals like in northern Canada.

Thirdly, if abieticola is not a subspecies, why are alascensis and fuertesi still recognized? A group of birders called "Red-tailed Hawks of Western Canada" has admitted to the fact that alascensis is indistinguishable from calurus in the field because of the variance of the latter subspecies. As for fuertesi, I recently had a heated debate with another birder because I identified a Red-tailed as such in Oklahoma and the point of his argument was, how can we call it a possible fuertesi by a nearly nonexistent bellyband when some borealis in Ohio also exhibit no bellybands. Are we going to call them fuertesi too? As much as I hate to admit that (though the named subspecies has other differences from borealis), we can't ignore the fact that other subspecies are much more similar in appearance and yet none are reviewed for its validity.

Lastly, what about dark morphs? One of the reasons why calurus gets confirmed across eastern US is because they are the "only" subspecies with rufous or dark morphs. And it's easy to understand how one might show up in eastern US. The distribution of calurus is very similar to a Golden Eagle; summers/resident to western Canada, year-rounded resident to western US, winter visitor to Great Plains and annual or vagrant to eastern US. If you may see a Golden Eagle in Kentucky every winter, why not a calurus Red-tailed, a population with a very similar distribution.

However, there is a rising hypothesis that abieticola has dark morphs. This hypothesis started with Jean Iron (2012) who stated...

"When dark morph Red-tailed Hawks are seen in southern Ontario they are assumed to be from the western subspecies calurus. This is based on the belief that dark morphs do not occur in the Eastern Red-tailed Hawk borealis breeding population, whereas dark morphs occur in Western calurus. I wonder whether this assumption is always correct or if we should consider an eastern source for some of our dark morph Red-tailed Hawks.

The answer may lie in the northern Red-tailed Hawk population breeding in Canada’s boreal forest...I propose that a few dark morph Red-tailed Hawks probably occur in the abieticola population but have gone undetected in the vast boreal forest where few birders and ornithologists visit. This winter, 2011-2012, at least three and possibly four dark morph Red-tailed Hawks are overwintering near Toronto in Oakville, Oshawa, Guelph and Brantford. Some dark morphs may be breeding among the heavily pigmented abieticola population across the boreal forest. This makes more sense to me than thinking that all are western calurus."

Two years ago, eBird followed suite with the possibility that there are dark morph abieticola out there and proceeded in adding the slash calurus/abieticola. If you happen to be a user of eBird as well, if you see a dark morph Red-tailed Hawk east of the Rockies, it is best to use this slash instead of calurus/alascensis. I actually in fact used this slash a couple of days ago for a light morph Red-tailed (hard to believe) because it exhibited strong abieticola traits but the expected subspecies still couldn't be eliminated.

Conclusion

Though the subspecies may be thrown under the bus as a heavily-marked Eastern Red-tailed, abieticola still shows features that are inconsistent with even heavily marked southern Red-tailed populations. However, intergradation has probably interfered with them becoming such a clear-cut subspecies, especially if the intergradation zone between calurus and harlani extends from Gunsight Mountain, Alaska to North Dakota. There is also apparently problems identifying Red-tails in New England states as well as some Red-tails show very heavy brown bellybands and rich rufous breasts, suggesting a intergradation zone between borealis in that region.

As for it's validity as subspecies, I'm on the vote for yes it is. If it is true that abieticola can indeed have rufous or dark morphs, then it truly is a different subspecies from borealis. But we don't have that information yet. I see this decision of it's validity is very similar to the Harlan's Hawk being elevated to species status. Though it is behavioral and morphically different, we don't know how often it intergrades with other Red-tails and if they will willingly and consistent intergrade. It's just information we don't know yet and to make a decision on abieticola's status now appears premature and narrow-minded, especially in Wheeler's case as he failed to back up his statements with photographic evidence and/or data charts supporting his statements. As Jerry Ligouri stated...

"Although Northern Red-tailed Hawk is slowly becoming more familiar to raptor enthusiasts, much remains to be learned. With today’s advanced technologies for communication, documentation, and data archiving, birders can make solid contributions toward understanding this enigmatic bird’s identification, taxonomy, and natural history."

Acknowledgements

I would like to send some shout-outs to those who have helped me in my progression in understanding and identifying Red-tailed Hawks correctly. I would like to thank Jerry Ligouri and Brian Sullivan for spending some time with me, teaching me how to identify Red-tailed Hawks to subspecies level and how to identify abieticola. I thank Mike Borlé for taking his time in identifying several Red-tails I was skeptical about and trying to guess where the bird originated from. I also thank him for identifying my calurus/abieticola hawk. Shane Brown for sharing opinions on how "well-recognized" subspecies such as fuertesi or alascensis is not a valid subspecies. INaturalist psweet for recommending Wheeler's guide and giving me a new perspective on abieticola besides Ligouri and Sullivan's opinions on the matter. INaturalist Greg Lasley for tagging me in odd Red-tailed/Buteo observations and giving me a further appreciation for Red-tailed variation. INaturalist Bill Chambers for his comment, "when they come through you can really see the difference" when I identified one of his fall sightings an abieticola furthering my hunch that there's a distinct population up north.

Literature Source

Ingresado el 03 de diciembre de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de noviembre de 2019

Identifying US and Canada Red-tailed Hawks

I've been getting a lot of remarks, questions and rebukes over my identifications in regards to subspecies, sometimes in a common species we call the Red-tailed Hawk. Since I can't find a reliable source that complies every single US/Canada subspecies into one manuscript, I might as well write this and link to my identifications where I'm being asked for more information. Photos to be included to show the features I'm talking about. I hope you enjoy and learn something a little new about Red-tailed Hawks. Sources are sighted below.

Eastern Red-tailed Hawk -- Buteo jamaicensis borealis

Range: Central Alberta and Newfoundland south to south-central Texas and central Florida. Confirmed vagrant sightings in Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia (annual), California, Utah and Baja California. Probably would be annual in every Western US state if more eyes were out looking for the oddities.

Head: White supercilium is common. Throat is usually white, streaked or collared; dark throat is rare. Malar/cheek region usually dark.

Upperparts: Scapulars are moderately to heavily mottled white.

Underparts: Lightly to moderately marked bellyband. Barring occurs often on the flanks, rarely anywhere else. Breast almost always white but tawny does occur.

Wings: No rufous on the underwings. Patagials are thin or dull. Limited underwing markings.

Tail: Nearly all individuals have white uppertail coverts. Subterminal band thin to moderate. Partial or incompletely tail banding is uncommon. Nearly all individuals have white tips to the tail.

Morphs: Only light.

Juvenile: Throat almost always white, supercilium often white, bellyband light to moderately-marked.

Photos -- (1) Clear-cut example of borealis. (2) Lightly-marked streak-throated borealis. (3) Clear-cut flying example of borealis. (4) Flying moderately-marked streak-throated borealis.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/35716511#_ga=2.25563518.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/51359071#_ga=2.267893197.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/49386431#_ga=2.230545887.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/96071241#_ga=2.65992173.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Northern Red-tailed Hawk -- B. j. abieticola

Note: No longer a valid subspecies on iNaturalist because the Clements Checklist does not recognized it, probably due to the publicization of "Birds of Prey of the West/East" by Brian K. Wheeler in 2018, who does not recognize the subspecies due to some borealis exhibiting similar features that were once diagnostic of abieticola. I personally, am a denier of synonymizing the subspecies due to the fact that eBird still recognizes the subspecies and one of the creators is Brian Sullivan who has equal experience to Wheeler in raptor biology. Also if borealis was so closely related to abieticola, why is there slash on eBird for calurus/abieticola and not borealis/abieticola?

Range: Breeds from Yukon and Newfoundland south to Montana and Michigan. Winters from cental Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia south to Louisiana and Georgia. Because of it's range along the eastern Rocky Mountain front, annuals probably winter in Western US but go unnoticed due to its close resemblance to some Western (calurus) Red-tails.

Head: Dark head. Throat streaked, collared or dark. Darker cheek normal.

Upperparts: Light to moderate white mottling on the scapulars.

Underparts: Bellyband moderately to heavily-marked and always black or very brown black, and the bellyband will either have arrow-shaped streaking or blobby blotched markings. Barring often occurs if the bellyband is moderate. Legs are often unbarred. Breast white but can often be tawny or rufous and these individuals often appear incredibly similar to heavily-marked rufous morph Westerns (calurus). Sides of the breast often have black "dribbling" marks.

Wings: Little to no rufous on lighter morphs, but often heavily rufous on rufous-breasted individuals. Patagials thin but darker than normal borealis. Well defined trailing edge. Underwing coverts are almost always whiter than breast with the exception being intergradation with Western Red-tails.

Tail: Similar to Eastern Red-tails except with a broader subterminal band and they are more likely to show partial or complete tail banding.

Morphs: Mostly light but rufous have occurred. Dark morphs are hypothesized.

Juvenile: Nearly identical to borealis but with more variance, including more heavily marked underparts.

Photos -- (1) Clear-cut example of abieticola. (2) Tawny-breasted abieticola. (3) Flying clear-cut example of abieticola. (4). Flying rufous morph abieticola.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/87408001#_ga=2.57662953.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/88975651#_ga=2.57662953.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
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https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/49383721#_ga=2.221592795.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Western Red-tailed Hawk -- B. j. calurus

Range: Summers from southern Yukon and southwestern Northwest Territory south to central British Columbia and Alberta. Resident from southwestern British Columbia and eastern Alberta to Baja California Sur and western Texas. Winters in central and southern Midwest States. Annual to most eastern US states.

Head: Throat mostly dark, some have streaked, collared or white throats and these variations seem to occur more often in northern Canadian breeding areas or southwestern US deserts.

Upperparts: Very dark brown, white scapular mottling is light and barely visible comparative to other subspecies, however it is visible enough to use as an id feature to distinguish from other Buteo species.

Underparts: Perhaps the most variable subspecies in terms of underpart markings. Bellyband can vary from a few streaks and barring on the flanks to a thick black band across the belly with barring extending into the breast. Though typical bellybands have barring on the flanks and belly.

Wings: Almost all individuals have tawny or rufous underwings that contrast with the whit remiges. Patagials are dark and noticeably thick, making a huge "U" shape cut on the humerus region. If the bird is in wing, these two features are key to whether your Red-tailed is Western or not.

Tail: Incredibly variable from the "classic" all red-tail with thin subterminal band to a thickly banded tail with no distinct subterminal band. Also note where the wingtips end on the tail. Eastern/Northern Red-tails have wingtips barely extending past the uppertail coverts while calurus can extend from midway across the tail to the tail tips.

Morphs: Light, Rufous, Intermediate (only juveniles) and Dark. However light morphs dominate other morphs and from a compilation of photos I did for research about 96% of all calurus Red-tails are light morphs and 3% are rufous morphs.

Juvenile: Throat usually dark but younger individuals may have white throats that resemble borealis or abieticola. To distinguish light morphs from other subspecies, look for heavily marked bellyband and underwings. Only subspecies that have intermediate and dark morphs which is heavy markings on the breast (intermediate) or black underparts with white streaking, similar to Harlan's juveniles (dark).

Photos (I finally get to use my own!) -- (1) Dark-throated moderately-marked light morph calurus. (2) Tawny-breasted heavily-marked light morph calurus. (3) Lightly-marked calurus. (4) Dark morph juvenile calurus. (5) Heavily-marked rufous morph calurus. (6) Lightly-marked rufous morph calurus. (7) Flying molting very lightly-marked light morph calurus -- note thick patagials. (8) Flying typical light-morph calurus. (9) Flying dark morph calurus -- note that this was a breeder I observed all season and if you see something like this in the field and this is your only shot, best identify it as rufous/dark morph. (10) Dark morph calurus with very thick subterminal band.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114078141#_ga=2.201850322.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/119750351#_ga=2.29769212.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/48783551#_ga=2.25492094.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/48783501#_ga=2.267712717.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
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https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/169150031#_ga=2.259406921.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114112201#_ga=2.63454444.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/55849921#_ga=2.66452717.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/97549721#_ga=2.225244505.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/141548871#_ga=2.58520169.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889'

Alaska (Western) Red-tailed Hawk -- B. j. alascensis

Note: Probably not a valid subspecies but no efforts have been made to synonymized it with calurus, which is my personal third reason why I disagree with the abieticola invalidation. Even the facebook group "Red-tailed Hawk of Western Canada" has admitted that "there's very little distinguishing features between calurus and alascensis, if any, thanks to the observers on our group." The Alaskan Red-tailed is supposed differs with having either a rosy pink breast or tawny-rufous heart-shaped breast markings, smaller size and shorter tail with more individuals exhibiting tail bands.

Range: Rarely found inland but lives from about Juneau, Alaska south down the Alexander archipelago, Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island. Wheeler (2018) has alascensis summer in Alexander archipelago and wintering on Vancouver Island and the Puget Sound, but I'm debatable on how he deduced that.

Head: Dark or streaked throat, similar to calurus.

Upperparts: Light or moderate white or even buff scapular mottling.

Underparts: Bellyband markings vary considerably from light to heavily marked. Barring occurs across the belly in most individuals. Conflicting sources state that alascensis has a rosy pink breast unlike other subspecies (Clark 2017) or heart-shaped breast streaking (Wheeler 2018). Whether the case is one or another, it appears the consistency though for the subspecies is look for darker breast than belly (if you were to remove the bellyband markings).

Wings: Underwings are seemingly incredibly similar to calurus; dark, thick patagials and rufous coverts that clash with the white remiges.

Tail: Variable. Museum specimens show partial banding to full tail banding. Moderately-thick subterminal band.

Morphs: Seemingly only light.

Juvenile: Similar to calurus but apparently darker overall with wider tail banding.

Photos -- (1) Possible alascensis. (2) Another possible alascensis. (3) Possible flying alascensis.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/22418541#_ga=2.195874927.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/154790291#_ga=2.267194445.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/53994671#_ga=2.234682589.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Fuertes or Southwestern Red-tailed Hawk -- B. j. fuertesi

Note: It is being debated on whether or not this is a valid subspecies as it appears to be a even less lightly-marked borealis. Though juveniles appear like borealis and the wingtips extend far past the uppertail coverts which is a feature much more similar to calurus.

Range: Arizona to Oklahoma and Texas. Vagrant to Arkansas, Louisiana, California and Nevada.

Head: White throat in most individuals but streaked, collared and dark throats have been spotted. Cheek is normally dark like in borealis.

Upperparts: Light to moderate whitish or buff scapular mottling.

Underparts: Very little to no bellyband and if markings do show, it's only two or three streaking marks. Arizona individuals appear to have more streaking (more being visually similar to a very lightly marked borealis) and even barring on rufous washed flanks.

Wings: Underwings completely white with the exception of thin but dark patagials and "chevrons" where the primary coverts end.

Tail: Tail is very similar to molting borealis/calurus, meaning it's not as red as other Red-tails and if a subterminal band is present, it's very thin.

Morphs: Only light morphs.

Juvenile: Similar to borealis but with longer wings and bellyband has a distinct "V" shaped patterning where borealis is just streaking.

Photos -- (1) Arizona fuertesi -- note slight rufous wash. (2) Arizona fuertesi on the far end of markings. (3) Flying Texas fuertesi on the far end of markings. (4) Flying Arizona fuertesi.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/114896381#_ga=2.196605423.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/22509541#_ga=2.226865246.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/40878611#_ga=2.28777087.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/20812731#_ga=2.250607045.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Florida Red-tailed Hawk -- B. j. umbrinus

Range: Resident to Florida Peninsula. Vagrant to southeastern Georgia.

Head: Throat usually streaked or dark. Head dark.

Upperparts: Light white scapular mottling and well defined upperparts scalloping.

Underparts: Bellyband is typically moderately-marked but can be lightly-marked. Barred often occurs on the bellyband. Breast is normally rufous with light belly, putting on a very alascensis look but by range, it's incredibly unlikely they're the same.

Wings: Dark patagials that vary in width but is normally thin. Underwing coverts are rufous washed.

Tail: Little variation, typically dark red with moderately-thick subterminal band.

Morphs: Light only.

Juvenile: Similar to calurus juvenile variation, except without intermediate or dark morphs. Some can be extremely heavily marked.

Photos -- (1) Heavily-marked umbrinus -- note rufous breast and light belly. (2) Similar umbrinus features (3) Flying umbrinus (4) Heavily-marked juvenile umbrinus.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/42813881#_ga=2.33429117.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/141937951#_ga=2.260444238.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/23392821#_ga=2.260444238.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/49439481#_ga=2.58528361.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Krider's Hawk -- B. j. kriderii

Range: Breeds from southern Alberta and Ontario to northeastern Colorado and Iowa. Winters from eastern Colorado and southern Minnesota to eastern Texas and Florida. Can be vagrants to adjacent states of breeding/wintering ranges.

Head: Varies but is normally very whitish. Palest form has nearly completely white head. Darkest form has dark cheek and crown.

Upperparts: Heavy white scapular mottling and scalloping pattern is well defined on the rest of the upperparts.

Underparts: Little to no markings on the underparts and whatever markings an individual may have will be a few streaking. Underparts may have a buffy look, especially when compared side-by-side with the incredibly similar light morph Harlan's.

Wings: Patagials nearly none existent and thin with completely white underwing coverts. When compared to Harlan's look for buffy underparts, banded remiges and reddish-white tail with no other markings.

Tail: Variable with half of the tail being red to completely white. If the rectrices have a white base and reddish tail extends past half the tail, that's a solid candidate for Eastern X Krider's intergrade.

Morphs: Light only.

Juvenile: Heads are typically whiter than adults and white upperparts mottling is even more noticeable. Tail with whitish with banding.

Photos -- (1) Dark Krider's Hawk. (2) Lightest form Krider's. (3) Flying intermediately dark Krider's -- note buffy underwings. (4) Juvenile Krider's. (5) Flying juvenile Krider's.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109267071#_ga=2.59160046.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/30529471#_ga=2.221634011.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109377501#_ga=2.24056441.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/37820921#_ga=2.223885528.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/76574721#_ga=2.223885528.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Harlan's Hawk -- B. j. harlani

Range: Breeds mostly in Alaska and Yukon but recent evidence suggest they may breed throughout Canada all the way to North Dakota. Winters throughout western and central US.

Overall body difference: Besides I find Harlan's such a unique bird, I'm not going to go through all the body part features. All you need to know is; they are either black and white or cool brown and white, tail is incredibly variable from reddish mottled to brown mottling to white with reddish tip. Light morph adults can appear incredibly similar Krider's and are often misidentified in Western US but they differ with colder brown tones, white tail with mottled tail (usually in light morphs) and lack of buffy underwings. Harlan's also frequently show unbanded remiges and thicker patagials. Some Harlan's have Some juveniles can appear very calurus-looking but they differ with having "V" shaped tail banding.

Morphs: Around 84% are dark morph or intermediate morphs and the rest are light.

Photos -- (1) Light morph Harlan's. (2) White-spotted dark morph Harlan's. (3) Same dark morph Harlan's but shows awesome tail pattern. (4) Intermediate morph Harlan's. (5) Flying juvenile intermediate morph Harlan's. (6) Dark morph Harlan's.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/73157161#_ga=2.28774783.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
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https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/126158351
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https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/119476081#_ga=2.65919597.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889

Intergrades

We know for a fact that ranges overlap and intergrades do occur. Identifying them is the hard part because of feature overlapping among subspecies, so trying to weed out what's normal for one subspecies and not for another and trying to confirm it as an intergrade is either incredibly hard or impossible. Here's a list of intergrades that can or have occurred.

Western (calurus) X Harlan's
Northern (abieticola) X Harlan's
Western X Eastern (borealis)
Eastern X Krider's -- Most common intergrade
Northern X Eastern
Western X Alaska (alascensis) -- Probable
Eastern X Fuertes (fuertesi) -- Probable
Western X Fuertes -- Probable

Photos -- (1) Probable Western X Eastern intergrade (2) Probable Eastern X Krider's intergrade. (3) Probable Northern X Eastern intergrade -- note, though identified as abieticola, the bellyband is brownish and not the jet black typical of the subspecies, suggesting some intergradation but that can't be proven. (4) Harlan's X Western/Eastern or unusual light morph Harlan's. (5) Probable Northern X Harlan's intergrade.

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/119765151
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/109391161#_ga=2.201199853.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/42791171#_ga=2.268898482.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/80131711#_ga=2.20846203.2114655241.1571538712-1175263981.1555651889
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/172500461

Literature Sourced:

  • Clark, William S. (2014) -- Harlan’s Hawks are & have been Breeding within the Red-tailed Hawk Range in Western Canada.
  • Clark, William S. (2014) -- Harlan's Hawk differs from Red-tailed Hawk, especially in plumages
  • Clark, William S. (2018) -- The Alaska Red-tailed Hawk
  • Ligouri, Jerry (2004) -- Dark Red-tailed Hawks
  • Ligouri, Jerry and Brian L. Sullivan (2010) -- A Study of Krider's Red-tailed Hawk
  • Schmoker, Bill and Jerry Ligouri (2010) -- Photo Recovery of Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk in Colorado and Alaska
  • Sullivan, Brian L. and Jerry Ligouri (2010) -- A Territoral Harlan's Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis harlani) in North Dakota, with Notes on Summer Records of this Subspecies from the Northern Great Plains
  • Sullivan, Brian L. (2011) -- Apparent Eastern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis borealis) nesting in Alaska
  • Ligouri, Jerry and Brian L. Sullivan (2014) -- Comparison of Harlan's with Western and Eastern Red-tailed Hawks
  • Ligouri, Jerry and Brian L. Sullivan (2014) -- Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticola) Revisited
  • Wheeler, Brian K. (2018) -- Birds of Prey of the East
  • Wheeler, Brian K. (2018) -- Birds of Prey of the West

Ingresado el 01 de noviembre de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de octubre de 2019

Annoyances with Identifiers

So I'm going to get on a little rant about the identifying stuff but I don't want to put anyone on the spotlight and the reason for this journal post.

In the last three or weeks, I've received a new string of comments in regards to I can't identify bird subspecies by range because my id is an assumption and it really doesn't amount to scientific accuracy. Well, I'm going to explain why that argument is invalid.

Let's say you're hiking at Mount Hood in Oregon, and you come across a female Blue Grouse (Genus Dendragapus) in the middle of the trail. Now answer my honestly, who here is going to immediately say Sooty Grouse? Nearly everyone right. But yet I think we ignore the fact that only a handful of years ago, the Sooty Grouse was once a subspecies of the Dusky Grouse in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, Cornell even states "Dusky Grouse occur mainly in the Rocky Mountains of North America; they have very little range overlap with Sooty Grouse. Females are very difficult to tell apart in the field. Now seriously, who is going really going to try to find the subtle differences between species even though there might not be a chance you can even see the features needed to make an id. So if a birder on iNat submits a female "Sooty" Grouse in the Oregon Cascades, it is not an id made from range? The very thing I'm told NOT to do?

I can come up with a few other examples of this. How many birders submit their sighting as a California Scrub-Jay just because it's the expected species? How many of us actually look for features on the bird supporting our id? To further support my point of view on this, I helped an ebird reviewer the other on a scrub-jay sighted near Los Angeles. It was originally reported as Woodhouse's but was switched to Cal. And I explained to reviewer why it was California Scrub besides range because the bird was a juvie and it looked more Woodhouse-ish then it should've been.

You might think the Scrub-Jay example might be on the far end of the identifying by range spectrum but how about this? Are you sure the magpies you see are Black-billed? I mean, are you sure it's an Eurasian Magpie? How do you really know and don't tell me it's because they are an Old World species.

More examples include, I report my Red-tailed Hawks as Western (calurus) because after 3 years of watching hawks, I know that's 99.9% of what I'm going to see. I will only report it to just species level if I see features that don't support the subspecies. So how is that not acceptable when I bet nearly all birders on the West Coast id their sandpipers as Western because the look-alike species the Semipalmated is uncommon or rare.

Lastly, in the Blue Mountains a Western Flycatcher is left at simply Empidonax sp because Pacific-slope and Cordilleran look too much alike. Yet birders will have no problem identifying a Pacific-slope on coastal Washington or a Cordilleran in Colorado because it's the "expected species". But do you really know?

So pretty much what I'm trying to say is, I don't care if you identify my observation to species level but if you're going to lecture me on not identifying subspecies by range, first make sure you don't identify species by range.

Ingresado el 18 de octubre de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de agosto de 2019

Changing Common Name for Blue-winged Grasshopper

Several species on iNat fall under the name "Blue-winged Grasshopper" and looking over these species, it is easy to see that some people don't realize that or don't know the difference from one species over the other. Here's a list of the four species falling under this name in the order that iNat shows them if you typed in "Blue-winged Grasshopper".

Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)
Blue-winged Grasshopper (Trimerotropis cyaneipennis)
Saussure's Blue-winged Grasshopper (Leprus intermedius)
Wheeler's Blue-winged Grasshopper (Leprus wheelerii)

Now to add a few rough distribution descriptions for each one. O. caerulescens is found throughout Eurasia. T. cyaneipennis lives throughout western US. L. intermedius lives in southwestern US. L. wheelerii lives in south-central US.

Well today, I corrected (as best as I could) 10 observations in North America all sighted within the last month, labeled as O. caerulescens, the European species. And I can see how that can lead to problems. When we have a site with a majority of users being America, I can see how one will just click O. caerulescens if they typed in the search "Blue-winged Grasshopper" for their sighting. Not only that, I've noticed that the auto-id on the mobile app also lists O. caerulescens if such an individual occurred.

I think it would be wise if we change the common names of both O. caerulescens and T. cyaneipennis to help eliminate confusion with ids. My suggestion is just add geographical additions to the name, example being the Eurasian Blue-winged Grasshopper and the American Blue-winged Grasshopper. It wouldn't be the first time people have done this for example; Eurasian and American Kestrel, Eurasian and American Coot or Eurasian and American Moorhen. Sure those examples refer to more closely related taxon but I think the point still stands. But from what I see observers doing, I think this would be a smart idea.

Ingresado el 07 de agosto de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de julio de 2019

Understanding My Grasshopper Slang

Before I learned about websites such as iNat or Bug Guide, I used to 'describe' my own grasshopper species so I could figure out what I was finding. For years, I pursued bug books but all of them were so vague and had little information on the diversity of grasshoppers. I know from an early age that if I was going to understand the grasshoppers, I had to do it myself.

Now what exactly made me so interested in grasshoppers? Well, when I was young, I own a variety of reptiles and to save money on buying crickets, I would go out with my brother and dad and catch a few grasshoppers from one of three fields in town. And me noticing their diversity is what sparked my interest.

Now, I said before that I created my own names for a few species. Some of these species I've found but for the most part, most of the grasshoppers I have found have not been identified yet. For those I have not found an id here, please pipe in your possible id. Here we go:

What I Called It -- Scientific Name (Common) -- Range (For unidentified grasshoppers I've seen) -- Notes

Black-winged Grasshopper -- Dissosteira carolina (Carolina Grasshopper)

Spitters -- Genus Melanoplus

Painted Grasshoppers -- Probably smaller members of Melanoplus -- Widespread -- Small grasshoppers, largest being about half an inch. I recognize them from the varying colored stripes on the throax that bend upwards towards the top in the middle, making it look like a diamond on the side. We saw many variations of these and I believe we saw multiple species.

Colored-legged Grasshoppers -- Unknown but possibly similar to Melanoplus -- Widespread in Rockies -- Small grasshoppers with transparent wings but had an excellent range of colored legs. Could've all been different species but I know they were mostly red-legged but there was also (in order of abundance) yellow, orange, blue and green.

Wingless Grasshopper -- Bradynotes obesa (Wingless Grasshopper)

Stick-Grasshoppers -- Subfamily Gomphocerinae (Stridulating Slant-faced Grasshoppers)

Tiger Grasshopper -- Unknown -- Saw frequently in Montana but not much elsewhere -- Similar to large members of Melanoplus but are more capable fliers and had two distinct yellow stripes of the top side of the wing, making it look like 'tiger' stripes.

Yellow-winged Grasshopper -- Probably Trimerotropis pallidipennis or similar species -- Widspread, saw wherever Dissosteira carolina was.

Red-winged Grasshopper -- Unknown -- Saw frequently in Montana and Utah -- The second smallest of the 'colored-winged' grasshoppers. They are usually black with vibrant red wings. In high elevations, I found red-winged grasshoppers that were very light mottled brown. I am not sure if they are the same species.

Blue-winged Grasshopper -- Unknown -- ONLY found at the lava fields rest stop between Pocatello and Idaho Falls, ID -- Small grasshopper (probably inch long females) that were black like the rocks and had vibrant royal blue wings.

Humpback Locust -- Unknown -- Found at a ranch between Greycliff and Laurel, MT -- Solid light green locust about 3 inches long. The individuals also have huge humps on the thorax.

Desert Locust -- Possibly related to Dissosteira -- Eastern Utah -- Large grasshoppers about 3 inches long that were excellent fliers. Colors ranged from a pale green to a mottled brown. They liked to hide in sagebrush.

Geyser Grasshopper -- Unknown -- Caldera region of Yellowstone National Park -- Small black and white striped grasshopper that I've only seen near geyser fields at the park.

Zebra Grasshopper -- Unknown but possibly related to the Geyser Grasshopper -- Short-grass areas of Montana -- Small black and white grasshopper with the barring going up and down, not head to wingtip. Legs are beautifully ringed black and white.

So hopefully, you can help me id some of these grasshoppers. And I can't wait to go out again and start looking for grasshoppers!

Ingresado el 04 de julio de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de junio de 2019

Time to Make Empid Complexes?

Over the course of two weeks, I've observed several species of empids in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene region, including Willow Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, a rare Alder Flycatcher (sadly unable to photograph/record it) and a potential Cordilleran Flycatcher. Anyone notice what the connection between the species I listed above? For those birders out there older than dirt, you would know that the Willow and Alder Flycatcher, and the Pacific-slope and Cordilleran Flycatcher were once the same species.

Probably the more well known complex is the Pacific-slope/Cordilleran (originally known as the Western Flycatcher) was split in 1989. Ever since then, they have been giving birders and even scientists headaches distinguishing them between each other. I will not go into the details of the taxon and why they were separated. The other complex was the Willow/Alder Flycatcher or the Traill's Flycatcher was split in 1973 for similar reasons.

The question I'm posing though is, should iNat curators start making empid complexes. And I think that it should extend beyond the two complexes I just mentioned. In cases dealing with empids, you can only separate certain species by call, habitat and range.

Here at the complexes I think should be added to iNat:

Western Flycatcher (Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher)

Traill's Flycatcher (Willow/Alder Flycatcher)

Hammond's/Dusky Flycatcher

Gray/Dusky Flycatcher

Now, you may ask, why is making the complexes important? That is because some of these empids CANNOT be identified to the species level by just a photo or such. Plus, we still don't know the range status of the Western Flycatcher in the Blue Mountains or northern Idaho. Not too mention, DNA analysis have been preformed in Idaho and there is hybridization between the species. By providing these complexes on iNat, we can id the empids to an even more correct id than just Empidonax genus.

Ingresado el 14 de junio de 2019 por birdwhisperer birdwhisperer | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario