Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Confusing Sparrows

It is now time for the Winter sparrows to dominate fields and feeders. At first glance they are all the same; little brown birds. A second look gives many frustrations with identification.

Let us take a good look at this first winter White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys). Now you are already thinking; it doesn't have a white crown. This is a juvenile, the white crown is only present on adults. This species is often confused with the more common White-throated Sparrow. Notice the bill. White-throated Sparrows have dark bills. White-crowned Sparrows have pinkish-orange bills.
Two other species which may be confused with this juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, could possibly be the American Tree Sparrow and the Field Sparrow; both have un-striped breasts. Both have rufous-rusty crown markings. The American Tree Sparrow has a bi-colored bill and a spot in the center of its chest. The Field Sparrow has a rufous and gray head pattern; with a stout pink bill. The other sparrows that we are likely to see during the Winter months have striped markings and can be eliminated from consideration.
White-crowned Sparrow

 Photos (c) High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Yes, that is confusing! I think I may have mis identified them myself after reading this. Very informative, Randy!