“Subspecies” vs. “Race”

Interesting to me, I get asked quite often what the difference between the word “race” and “subspecies” is when talking about or discussing bird ID. Do the two words mean the same thing, or do they have two separate meanings? Basically, the words mean the same thing, but race is more informal, and subspecies is more appropriate biologically. Even within other fields of science, the term race is being replaced with the term “type,” and I use the term “type” myself to describe raptors these days in some situations. So, feel free to use either race or subspecies, but I prefer the term subspecies since it is more appropriate when describing wildlife.

Feel free to write me with any questions regarding raptors, and I’ll try to use those questions as a blog post subject…thanks for checking in! Oh, by the way, the Red-tailed Hawk shown here is of the Western subspecies.

This post was written by Jerry Liguori. You can read more about Jerry and his legacy at HawkWatch International here.

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