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).
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.
You can find lots of pictures of a Chipping Sparrow here.
Photos from Wikimedia