I had a ‘snow day’ yesterday…as I started off to work the freezing fog was so dense I couldn’t see two blocks; I turned around before I ever got out of town and stayed home for the day. And I watched birdies. Yeah!
Mostly I didn’t see anything other than the ever-growing number of usuals; several Junco variants, Pine siskins, American goldfinch, House finch, chickadees, woodpeckers, Blue jays, magpies and of course Eurasian Collared-doves.
But I also saw what, last year I called a ‘chipmunk-colored bird…different from the rest’…but only for a moment. Having done my homework, I was convinced I’d seen a White-throated Sparrow. I noted that under the brown & tan stripped head was the long, white throat-patch…lined in dark on either side. I noted the very streaky flanks and finally the dark blotch high on its breast, from which the streaks seemed to emanate. I was quite sure I finally saw a fairly common bird for this area. But perhaps not. Ah the joys of sparrows; Little Brown Birds (LLBs).
White-throated sparrows’ stripped heads are black-stripped, not chipmunk-brown and their breasts are a clear, sooty-gray. Well, unless the bird is young.
Immature White-throated sparrows (like immature White-crowned sparrows) have brown, rather than black strips…and they are streaked with these marks coming together in a central
The problem is that several many times I have thought I might have a Savannah Sparrow in my yard, and upon consulting various books I’ve decided this bird was not one…but that is based on the fact that Savannah Sparrows’ breast is far more pale and unstreaked than the bird I saw. And the head-stripes were more evident than I can see in most Savannah sparrow photos. But then, I didn’t find many ‘immature’ photos.
So, could it have been a Song Sparrow? Yes; stripy head, streaky breast and the dark, central spot. The photo to the right is most like what I remember seeing. Especially with that lack of yellow near the lores.
Obviously I have more work to do. But, isn’t that the fun of it all?
Photos from Wikipedia