Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chipping Sparrow?

You all have likely figured out that, while enthusiastic, I'm no espert birder. I try not to bore you with the 'usual' birds I find here. However...some of you might be interested in the fact that yesterday I discovered my FOS Brown-headed Cowbird (ugg) in the mix of a hundred or so otherblack birds (Red-winged, Yellow-headed, grackles and starlings).

Do people 'follow' cow-birds...or just love to hate them?

I also noted a `different' bird feeding on the cement landing I cleared outside my back door and scattered with seed. Literally, scores and scores of Pine Siskins, Juncos and Am. Goldfinch feed there…with the oft in-and-out ofEvening Grosbeaks and occasional White-crowned and/or White-throated Sparrows (not to mention all those pesky black birds I try to keep at bay.)

Anyway…about this `different' bird I noted: it looked to be a small sparrow, longish tail, very pale breast and quite distinct and long, thin, dark line across the side of the face; through the eye. Above that was a white eyebrow; making that eye-line particularly striking. The bill was darkish and there were no streaks on the breast.

But what had brought my attention to it was thered on the head…which at first I wondered if it was dried blood; it wasn't redlike a Cassin's Finch…it was rufus like the breast of a robin or the back of an Oregon Junco. This coloring was somewhat mixed at the top and forward part ofthe head…mixed in with stripes, not unlike those of a White-crowned Sparrow. I ran for the binoculars. Looking more closely at the bird, I saw it was not blood, but natural, rufus coloring that seemed to be just coming in. I again noted the some what stripy coloring on the top of the head, the very, very pale breast and that beautiful, dark eye line. The rufus feathering was nothing like the brownish, checker-board-look of a young White-crowned Sparrow and it didn't have the dark-lined, white throat of a White-throated Sparrow, either. The bird took off when the black-birds sent another volley to the feeding place by the door; I'll try for a photo later.

In the mean-time I've done some research. The bird's breast and flanks were paler than that of Rufous-winged and it lacked the throat strip of Rufous-crowned Sparrows. The bill was darker than that of a Field Sparrow and it lacked the breast spot of a Tree Sparrow.

I believe I've identified my first Chipping Sparrow; one just loosing what appeared to be a crown-strip and coming into full breeding plumage with that beautiful rufus-crown. What else might it be? While that redish crown was not yet fully grown-in, I think it was the dark lores, with that bit of white, that added to my 'stripy head' interpretation.

Photos from Wikimedia


Bosque Bill said...

Sounds like you guessed right - an immature going on adult Chipping Sparrow. Hopefully, you will get a chance to hear their song (call?)


Argh, don't know if it is or FF3, but something doesn't seem to remember me anymore and I have to log in to comment every darn time. What a pain.

Beverly said...

Hmmmmmm...I have always had to log in to leave comments on your site. I've not changed anything here...I LIKE IT when you come to visit!


Chas S. Clifton said...


Seen in hummingbirds yet? They seem to be a little tardy this year.

Beverly said...

I have fresh nectar out, but have yet to see a hummer. I only started watching birds last year...and have that photo of the (likely) Calliope female that I took the first day or so of May. Unfortunately, while I'd seen hummers a bit before that, I didn't track such things then.

I've noticed the CoBirds network has reported a Black-chin in Fremont County and I thought one somewhere else, too (but can't find the post).

Of course, I'll post as soon as I see 'em.

What was that I just read a bit on a bunch of blue-birds dying? It sounded like they were cold and wet and might have been unable to find food? Dang...

Thanks for stopping by!

Beverly said...

Ah...and someone just reported seeing a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Colorado Springs.

I hung a feeder with a couple ounces of nectar the other day (assuming I'll end up tossing some before they begin arriving in earnest)....but still haven't seen a hummer yet.

Chas S. Clifton said...

A male broad-tailed hummer showed up today (4/21), so maybe they were just waiting for the snow to melt.

Word verification, appropriately, PERCH.

Beverly said...

Here toooooooo!!!

April 21st... FOS

Male Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

I'm so happy I put out that feeder! My plan was just to keep an couple ounces in there ...tossing every couple days... just to be on the ready when they arrive. Perhaps I won't be tossing any out, afterall! The stuff is already half gone!!!

Sunny said...

The "cow-bird" may not be as fancy in name or color, but its song reminds me of a musical waterfall, very beautiful!