Friday, December 14, 2007

I Am Guilty

I am guilty of bird misidentification, and the non-birder claim that "all the little brown birds look the same" has played true in my error.

I was watching the house sparrows at my feeders this morning. (Today and tomorrow are my Project FeederWatch count days). A week or so ago, I found myself wondering if some of the birds in my yard that I've been counting as female house sparrows might in fact be some other kind of sparrow. I read through the various sparrows in my field guides, but couldn't get any good photos of "sparrow variety" in my yard to compare to the guides.

Today, one of the mystery sparrows perched alone at the tip top of my gree, which allowed me to get a good shot of it.

Sure enough, it's not a female house sparrow. It's a Song Sparrow!
Song sparrow

The stripes on the head are similar to the pictures of the juvenile white crowned sparrow, and since I have an adult white crowned sparrow visitor, I thought maybe this was a juvenile. Today, though, I noted the streaking on the chest, and the white crowned sparrow does not have the streaking. I don't see any dark spot on this guy's chest (like the books say for song sparrows), but he's also not facing completely forward, so it might be there.

I loved this little tidbit about song sparrows:

Laboratory studies have shown that the female Song Sparrow is attracted not just to the song itself, but to how well it reflects the ability of the male to learn. Males that used more learned components in their songs and that better matched their song tutors (the adult bird they learned their songs from) were preferred.

Smart chicks! :)

Now, I'm left to wonder how many I've mis-counted so far...

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