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More spectacular sparrows

Here’s another sparrow that could cause some confusion – the White-crowned. ‘Oh they’re easy’ you say! That boldly patterned head of the adult bird in the top photo is truly distinctive. But what about the bird in the photo below? I suspect that White-crowned sparrows are under-reported in backyard bird counts because these immatures (birds born last summer) don't draw our attention. The stripes on the head are brown and gray, not black and bright white. In my opinion this bird is one of the least distinctive and, if I may dare say, DULL, sparrows we’re likely to encounter. But at least one photographer finds the molt pattern from immature to adult to be interesting subject matter - see Mia McPherson's blog.

These young birds may look a bit like the American Tree Sparrow (featured in my previous post) but they lack the black dot on the breast. They also have a nice pink bill; the bill of the Tree Sparrow is distinctly bi-colored. The Field Sparrow does have a pink bill but also has a distinct eye ring. Also note the eye line on the immature White-crowned which is absent on the Field Sparrow - it really stands out once you start looking for it!


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