[Tweeters] Towhee diagnostics and a weird whitish West Seattle warbler

Dennis Paulson dennispaulson at comcast.net
Wed Mar 29 13:32:13 PDT 2017


The towhees that sometimes come to western Washington from eastern WA or farther north are also distinguishable because they have much larger white tail spots than our resident subspecies oregonus, about two times as long. The spots on the upperparts on oregonus vary a moderate amount, so the tail spots should be checked as well to be certain you have a migrant from elsewhere. I think your most-spotted one is probably still within the range of oregonus. The two subspecies that are possible here (not maculatus) are curtatus from eastern WA and arcticus from still farther east and north, both of which are dramatically spotted.

Ahh, if tweeters could only allow attachments, maybe a maximum of one per message . . . I know, I know, it would get out of hand anyway.

Dennis Paulson

On Mar 29, 2017, at 12:00 PM, tweeters-request at mailman1.u.washington.edu wrote:

> Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:20:38 +0000

> From: "Tucker, Trileigh" <TRI at seattleu.edu>

> Subject: [Tweeters] Towhee diagnostics and a weird whitish West

> Seattle warbler

> To: "tweeters at u.washington.edu" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>

> Message-ID: <D5005681.537D9%tri at seattleu.edu>

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"


> Hello Tweets,


> The generous comments of a couple of Tweeters explained what neither the Cornell Lab’s towhee webpage nor Sibley did, which is why I was so puzzled about the report mentioned below: that there are a couple of different subspecies in the western US. The most common around here is oregonus, which is much less spotted than maculatus. (Unhelpfully, maculatus is also officially part of the name of the whole species.)


> On my Flickr site<https://www.flickr.com/photos/trileigh/>, I’ve posted three photos of local (West Seattle) male towhees in the approximate order of their spottedness. From the photos posted on this helpful link<https://wildfidalgo.blogspot.com/2011/03/spot-check.html> provided by a fellow Tweeter, I can see that maculatus indeed is at the far end of spottedness. Without the comments I received in response to the post below, I sure would have assumed they were all the same species with just random variability in spottedness.


> Thanks so much to those who weighed in on my towhee question; you’re part of the reason I value Tweeters so much.


> Then as I was photographing the last towhee through my window, a surprisingly white little warbler appeared briefly, just long enough to catch a not-great-but-probably-sufficient photo. I assume it’s simply an unusually white Yellow-rumped Warbler—it has just a tiny hint of yellowing under the wing—but if you have other ideas, I’d be interested. (That photo<https://www.flickr.com/photos/trileigh/33554037822/in/dateposted/>’s also on my Flickr page.)


> Finally, yesterday on the Seattle U campus I spotted a pair of goldfinches (first time I’ve seen them there) foraging very calmly and capably high on a vertical brick wall. I was impressed at how well their feet held those round little bodies in place against the bricks as they poked around.


> Good birding to you,

> Trileigh

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