Yeah, pretty basic bird right? Junco....sub-species Slate-colored, as found near my house on the Mullica. In fact, this is the only Junco subspecies you will find on the east coast. But take note as it is often confusing and it might appear to be that you are looking at anther subspecies. The Male (as in the image above) has this dark gray head, neck, back....while the female is a lighter gray with olive back, with the colors showing little contrast at times betwen head and body.
Now....When I to back to my home state of Washington, I find I can do a name change of sorts, and classify it as the Oregon Junco. It essentially looks the same but has more of a brown back and reddish sides. Down in Arizona, my subpecies is the Pink-sided Junco or Gray-headed or Red-backed and in Colorado area, you can find the White-Winged Junco...That's it folks.
Well...no wait.... There is the Yellow-eyed Junco found in Arizona too.... although that is a different Species, not just a sub-species. I have seen this bird in the Catalina Moutains as well as in Madera Canyon area, and many times the Yellow-eyed Species and the Dark-eyed Species (3 separate Sub-species with Gray-headed, red-backed and Oregon) are mingling in a fancy feast. But it goes deeper than this.
Let's take Arizona for instance.....the Yellow-eyed Junco "species' at one time or another was actually split into 3-4 different SPECIES, not subspecies. The Species were; the Guadalupe, Mexican and Bairds Junco. The Mexican Junco and the Bairds Junco were actually the Arizona Junco way back in 1910. They in return were split up prior to that into the Arizona and Bairds Junco in 1895 and a bit earlier. So the family tree name has changed thru the years. But from 1983 on the bird has pretty much been known as the Yellow-eyed species. The Guadalupe Junco just melded into the Yellow-eyed along with the Mexican and Bairds, with the Arizona long gone. Remember also that Arizona is visited by the following sub-species of the Dark-eyed Junco with the Pink-sided, Gray-headed and Red-backed all around in some capacity or another.
Now, let's move on from the Yellow-eyed Species and concentrate on the Dark-eyed. Species... In the past this one species has been '8' different species. They were, the White-winged (Reclassified from Species to Sub-species), Oregon (Reclassified from Species to Sub-species), Pink-sided (Reclassified from Species to Sub-species), Slate-colored (Reclassified from Species to Sub-species), the Gray headed (Reclassified from Species to Sub-species), the Red-backed (not sure of movement on this one but now is a sub-species) the Townsends species (absorbed into another sub-species around 1900) and the Ridgeway's (absorbed into another sub-species around 1900).
I have to wonder, what causes this movement of name changes? After pondering the distribution map, I can safely say that it has nothing to do with bird genetics or song-type but of all things; beer.....yes my friends beer. Can these name changes be attributed to a simple explanation such as scientists attempting to combine their official meetings but doing so while 'taste-testing beer within breweries akin to the locales of the birds? I mean, some craft beers have a strong alcohol content and this might very well be a viable explanation. This can especially ring true in the computer age as they are sitting around in the local brewery discussing amongst themselves this 'age-old' problem of Junco Classification and it is pretty easy to pull out the i-phone and do a quick re-classification in between re-fills. I mean, no one would even remember they did it. How many times are you at a brewery or pub and casually text someone on your phone or 'google' something. It isn't far-fetched to say that these same scientists are not doing much the same.
To put this theory to test, it is important to overlay the distrubution map of the Junco, with that of possible brewery sites here in the United States that ABA members might be visiting while having 'important meetings' concerning the name changes of the Junco species / sub-species.
For instance, In the great state of Oregon....(Oregon Junco Prime distribution) the Rogue Brewing company in southwestern Oregon has an alcohol content of near 13%?
In Colorado, just north of Arizona where the two official-classfied species (Dark-eyed and Yellow-eyed) intermindle, you will find the Grand Lake Brewing Company with alcohol content of 20%. Further west in California (Slate colored sub-species, Oregon Sub-species) you have the Bruery Brewing Company with 19.5% alcohol content. Or in Arizona where the Mexican beers are heavy and no one really knows what the alcohol content of those beers are, we have multiple outside venues connected to beer. It just so happens that Arizona is the epicenter of mutliple species and bird species of the past, constantly changing names and species. Heading far East into Michigan, you have the Big Buck Brewing Company with 20% alcohol content. Then, into Delaware, you have Dogfish Brewing Company with 15-20% alcohol content. And, as a side note, didn't the ABA just move recently to Delaware? It makes one wonder just what was the motive behind that move doesn't it? (See map below).
But to top it off....the only place that the Junco 'is NOT" located in the mainland states is in Florida. No Junco's in Florida, or very little. So let's say the ABA folks wanted to find a state where no visual bird could influence their decision on the re-classification process of the Junco species and sub-species. So, what do we find? Well...we find the Lagerhaus Brewing company with 22% alcohol content.
So...based upon my analysis of the distribution maps, I wager the reason behind the Junco re-classifications from Species to sub-species and back or the complete absorbing of the same, leans toward the theory that various 'high alcohol' content" of known breweries and brews within specific locales of interest to birders plays heavily on this scientific process and outcome.
May Below: Location of ABA as of 2014 was in Delware City (Northern Part of State)... Just south (Marked) is the Dogfish Brewing Company). While on the map, this might look like a great expanse of land between the two, it really isn't for remember that Delware is a very small state.