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The White-winged Junco
(Junco hyemalis aikeni
) is a subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...
of the Dark-eyed Junco
The Dark-eyed Junco is the best-known species of the juncos, a genus of small grayish American sparrows. This bird is common across much of temperate North America and in summer ranges far into the Arctic...
. It is superficially similar to the Slate-colored Junco. It was formerly classified as a distinct species.
It is a common endemic breeder in the Black Hills
The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, USA. Set off from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, the region is something of a geological anomaly—accurately described as an "island of...
area of South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....
, and Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...
, and winters south along the Front Range
The Front Range is a mountain range of the Southern Rocky Mountains of North America located in the north-central portion of the U.S. State of Colorado and southeastern portion of the U.S. State of Wyoming. It is the first mountain range encountered moving west along the 40th parallel north across...
to northeastern New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...
J. h. aikeni
resembles the Slate-colored Junco but is larger, lighter gray (the head plumage contrasting with the dark lores), has much more white in the tail, and has a larger, longer bill that often has a bluish cast. Females are paler and washed brownish. Most fresh (fall/winter) individuals have the white wingbars that give this taxon its common name, but this feature is not always present, especially in spring and summer on females as the white tips to the wing coverts easily wear off. About one Slate-colored Junco in 200 has wing bars as bold as those of a fresh White-winged Junco. Therefore, using wingbars alone to identify a bird as a White-winged Junco outside the breeding range is ill-advised; identifications must be based on all the relevant characteristics.