[CT Birds] Interior Nelson's

paul cianfaglione pcianfaglione at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 21 14:27:46 EDT 2011

I e-mailed Patrick Comins today to confirm with him that the two Nelson's Sparrows he had found in Portland were those of the subvirgatus subspecies. The two birds I had this year and the two from the previous two October's clearly looked like atlantic form subvirgatus. Patrick got back to me saying that the birds he found looked like subvirgatus Nelson's, however, Chris Elphick mentioned to him that the subspecies are not safely separated in the field! A blurry, washed out Nelson's could be an interior bird! That was a shocker and a punch in the gut! 
Prior to learning about this, I had surmised that some of the atlantic birds were using the Connecticut River as a migratory path. Many of the past sightings of Nelson's, including one found last week in Massachusetts have all been found directly along the Connecticut River. Why was there a tendency to find these Nelson's only along the CT River?? 
It's hard to believe that interior and atlantic birds could be similar looking, even though photos of Nelson's on VIREO's website (Visual Resources For Ornithology) clearly show bright, distinctly marked interior birds even in Quebec. 
You would figure interior and saltmarsh to be the problem, not subvirgatus and nelsoni! 
I stand corrected, and stunned! 
Paul Cianfaglione

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