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RE: [CALBIRDS] Pine Grosbeak subspecies

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  • Jim Gain
    Along the lines of Pine Grosbeak (PIGR), late last May, Wray Ladine and I had 2 PIGR at Courtright Reservoir in Fresno County that seemed to be mother and
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 5, 2004
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      Along the lines of Pine Grosbeak (PIGR), late last May, Wray Ladine and I
      had 2 PIGR at Courtright Reservoir in Fresno County that seemed to be mother
      and daughter. I say that because one of the birds was richly colored and the
      other was somewhat mottled without the same richness as the other. Both were
      females. The mottled-looking one was following the other one around
      everywhere it went. The adult was not feeding the young one, but seemed to
      be looking over it.



      My question is has anyone else seen this? Do second year birds hang out with
      their parents?



      Jim Gain

      Modesto



      _____

      From: Joseph Morlan [mailto:jmorlan@...]
      Sent: Friday, November 05, 2004 6:18 AM
      To: CalBirds; Kern Bird list
      Subject: Re: [CALBIRDS] Pine Grosbeak subspecies



      Additional photos of the Galileo Hill bird, including a more detailed head
      shot, are now available on Bob Steele's site at:

      http://www.bobsteelephoto.com/Species/pigr.html


      On Thu, 4 Nov 2004 14:54:18 -0800, Les Chibana <les@...> wrote:

      >
      >I happened to have a few photos of Pine Grosbeaks taken in Alaska, and
      >a couple of them are probably flammula. I posted a page on my website
      >with the photos that also lists the bill measurements from Pyle and a
      >link to Joe Morlan's photo gallery page where you can see the Kyle's
      >photo. As I note on the page, it may be an exercise in futility to try
      >to parse out the subspecies based on ranges of measurements and from
      >photos, but perhaps someone would like to try.
      >
      ><http://www.birdnutz.com/gallery/pigr_comp.htm>
      >
      >My thoughts are that there are two other subspecies possible: montanus
      >and leucurus.
      >
      >Do I have too much time on my hands? You bet!
      >
      >Les
      >---
      >Les Chibana
      >BirdNUTZ(tm) - Ornigasmic Birding
      >em <les@...>
      >web <http://www.birdnutz.com>
      >ph 650-949-4335
      >fx 650-949-4137
      >snailmail: SR2 Box 335, La Honda CA 94020
      >
      >
      >
      >On Nov 4, 2004, at 10:26 AM, vireos44 wrote:
      >
      >> Hi all, Having looked at the Pine Grosbeak photo taken at Galileo
      >> Hill on Joe Morlan's site, I'm impressed with the length and depth
      >> of this bird's bill. That is one big bill! Having gone through pics
      >> in various books (Small;Kaufman;Audubon Society Master Guide) and
      >> followed that with an internet search, I haven't been able to find a
      >> picture of a PIGR bill that equals its size. According to Pyle,
      >> among the six PIGR subspecies occurring in North America, the
      >> California breeder (californicus)has the smallest bill. The two
      >> subspecies with the largest bills are a Siberian vagrant
      >> (kamtschatkensis), and an Alaskan-British Columbia breeder
      >> (flammula) that winters to Washington-Idaho. I wouldn't hazard a
      >> guess as to which subspecies this bird is, but I question whether it
      >> could be the California one.
      >>
      >> Jim Pike
      >> Huntington Beach
      >
      >
      >
      >
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      --
      Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA 94044 jmorlan@...
      Fall Birding Classes start Sep 14 http://fog.ccsf.edu/~jmorlan/
      California Bird Records Committee http://www.wfo-cbrc.org/cbrc/


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    • Kimball Garrett
      Jim (and CalBirders), I agree with Les Chibana that we re not likely to pin down the subspecies of the Kern County Pine Grosbeak, but here are a couple of
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 9, 2004
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        Jim (and CalBirders),



        I agree with Les Chibana that we're not likely to pin down the
        subspecies of the Kern County Pine Grosbeak, but here are a couple of
        additional thoughts (some of which were developed with Jon Dunn as we
        watched the bird on 6 November).



        Bill size and shape does vary geographically (see BNA account #456 by
        Adkisson, 1999), but mean size varies (within a sex) only by 1.1 mm in
        culmen length and 1.7 mm in bill depth. I agree that this bird looked
        rather thick-billed, and the resident Sierra Nevada subspecies (Pinicola
        enucleator californica) has the most slender bill [bill length/depth =
        1.24; in other ssp. this ratio varies from 1.02 to 1.16]. This would
        perhaps argue against the Kern bird's being californica, but of course
        we have no measurements of the bill, just impressions from field and
        photos.



        Although californica breeds within 150 km or so to the north of Galileo
        Hill, it is not necessarily the only candidate for vagrancy; in fact,
        given the dearth of known records of this ssp. in the lowlands, I wonder
        if it isn't a poorer candidate than boreal leucura (including
        "alascensis" and "eschatosa") which is well-known to move into the
        northern couple of tiers of states during exceptional winters, or Rocky
        Mountain montana (with at least some down-mountain movement recorded).
        It doesn't seem likely that Alaska/B.C. coastal flammula would move well
        southward, but I'm not sure anything about the Galileo bird would rule
        that subspecies out [the AOU 1957 checklist says flammula has been
        recorded in winter south to n. WA and nw. ID, but Adkisson's BNA account
        says that winter British Columbia specimens are leucura and montana and
        that flammula only wanders to the n. BC coast]. I don't know the details
        of the Siskiyou/Lassen records cited in various sources or the Modoc
        record noted by John Sterling, but wonder if and how racial identity was
        determined.



        Plumage varies geographically as well, but we're hampered by not even
        knowing the sex of the Kern bird. My impression was that the primary
        coverts were rather slaty and cleanly edged with white, which might
        argue for an AHY bird (and therefore certainly a female), but can
        somebody with more familiarity with cardueline finches check the photos
        and see if they agree? If a HY bird, then the bird can't be sexed. Not
        knowing the age and sex for certain, it's difficult to apply any plumage
        subtleties to the question of subspecies. The back showed some
        indistinct dark centers, a character that varies a bit geographically,
        but without having the bird in the hand and knowing age/sex, it's of
        questionable value.



        I think we can rule out the endemic Queen Charlotte ssp. carlottae by
        plumage (that one is dark), and ne. Asian kamtschatkensis (vagrant to w.
        Alaska) by range, but maybe that's as far as we can get for certain.



        Far and away the best characters for determining geographical origin are
        vocal ones. Adkisson has studied this in detail (see Condor 83:277-288,
        1981). The loud whistled "location calls" (including "flight calls")
        show striking geographic variation; to my knowledge, nobody heard such
        calls from the Galileo bird. The Galileo bird did give quiet, repeated
        "contact calls", but according to Adkisson there is no geographical
        variation in such calls.



        So in summary I can emphatically say that I don't know the subspecies
        (and, thus, the rough geographical origin) of the Kern bird, and now
        that the bird is apparently gone we're not likely to ever know. If the
        bird got munched by an Accipiter, perhaps someone will find a pile of
        feathers that can be used for genetic analysis???



        -- Kimball





        Kimball L. Garrett

        Ornithology Collections Manager

        Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

        900 Exposition Blvd.

        Los Angeles CA 90007

        (213) 763-3368

        (213) 746-2999 FAX

        kgarrett@...





        -----Original Message-----
        From: vireos44 [mailto:jpike44@...]
        Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2004 10:27 AM
        To: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] Pine Grosbeak subspecies



        Hi all, Having looked at the Pine Grosbeak photo taken at Galileo

        Hill on Joe Morlan's site, I'm impressed with the length and depth

        of this bird's bill. That is one big bill! Having gone through pics

        in various books (Small;Kaufman;Audubon Society Master Guide) and

        followed that with an internet search, I haven't been able to find a

        picture of a PIGR bill that equals its size. According to Pyle,

        among the six PIGR subspecies occurring in North America, the

        California breeder (californicus)has the smallest bill. The two

        subspecies with the largest bills are a Siberian vagrant

        (kamtschatkensis), and an Alaskan-British Columbia breeder

        (flammula) that winters to Washington-Idaho. I wouldn't hazard a

        guess as to which subspecies this bird is, but I question whether it

        could be the California one.



        Jim Pike

        Huntington Beach



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