It's a good thread to be a part of, and I came to join it exactly the way you did. I bought feed store "ameraucanas". I got the same response you did when I posted pictures, and I can't lie, I was heartbroken. Same thing with my black copper marans. My first few years of keeping chickens, I didn't know the difference, either. I didn't even find BYC until this year, and I have learned more here in 10 months than in 7 years on my own. Easter Eggers are great chickens. I love mine, and sell them as fast as they hatch. The only difference is I advertise them as Easter Eggers. I advertise my ameraucanas as ameraucanas. If you aren't showing, and you only want pretty birds that come in a wide variety of colors that lay pretty eggs, then Easter Eggers can't be beat. If you want to raise a pure breed, and try breeding to improve your flock, then you need pure Ameraucanas
I'll most likely be purchasing the " real thing" next spring. Who would you recommend as far as hatcheries/breeders are concerned?