Date: 12/3/18 10:10 am
From: Russ Namitz <namitzr...>
Subject: [obol] Reporting subspecies in eBird
Greetings all~

Some folks have recently asked me about which subspecies of XXXXXX should they be marking down in their eBird checklists. If you don't know how to identify the various subspecies or subspecific group (ISSF=Identifiable Subspecific Form) of a bird species, then it is probably best to stick to the general species name (e.g. Song Sparrow). Often times, eBird Reviewers have included the local breeding (and sometimes wintering) form in the standard county list.
For example, in Curry County, one can choose one of the following two options.
SONG SPARROW
SONG SPARROW (heermanni Group)

The SONG SPARROW (heermanni Group) composes multiple subspecies (see attachment below). A more familiar example might be FOX SPARROW (SOOTY) where some observers may be aware of composes multiple subspecies within this subspecific group.
https://ebird.org/pnw/news/fox-sparrows-one-of-the-northwests-more-confusing-species/

There is an Excel spreadsheet that helps elucidate the various forms/subspecies found in a particular area and can be found here. https://ebird.org/science/the-ebird-taxonomy Click the link in the Download area (2nd paragraph) and then download the last Excel spreadsheet (eBird/Clements Checklist v2018).

Song Sparrow (heermanni Group) Melospiza melodia [heermanni Group]
Melospiza melodia cleonensis Extreme sw coastal Oregon to n Calif. (w Mendocino County)
Melospiza melodia gouldii Coastal central California (Mendocino Co. to n San Benito Co.)
Melospiza melodia maxillaris brackish marshes of central California (Suisun Bay)
Melospiza melodia heermanni central and southwestern California (including the Central Valley) and northwestern Baja California
Melospiza melodia graminea California Channel Islands (San Clemente, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Anacapa) off of southern Calfornia and Los Coronados Islands, west of Baja California. Formerly also Santa Barbara Island (Channel Islands), but now extirpated

Caveat: you will notice that some eBird reviewers may or may not include any or all of the subspecies/subspecific group within the county list, myself included. There are many reasons for this; 1) I may not have taken the time to research and therefore, don't know, 2) I just haven't put in the time/effort to make the change, or 3) Feel like there is more than one subspecies involved and want observers to take the time and consider the ID rather than assume a default subspecies (e.g. Steens Mountain FOX SPARROWS).

Cheers and good birding,
Russ Namitz

 
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