Monday, May 31, 2010

Song Sparrow

There was a Song Sparrow that wintered at Long Pond this year. This is it. There was a feeder located close to the covered training area and several small birds i.e. this sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow, Juncos and Chickadees could regularly be found in this area.

This shot was taken in February and shows a winter Song Sparrow very well.

The Song Sparrow is most easily identified by the brown streaking that meets up in the middle of the breast and forms what is referred to as a "stickpin."

The images provided in this post well illustrate how difficult bird identification can be. Coloring looks different in different light. The same of the bird looks different depending on the pose of the bird. Some times they look short and fat and other times they look long and slim.

This makes identification quite a challenge at the best of times. There are times that I can only see the front of the bird and other times that I only see the back of the bird.

There are a series identifiable markings on the bird's head, breast, chin, back, and tail. There are distinct shapes of the beak and the feet and legs. It takes constant review of images of all angles and regular reference to the field guides and the help of knowledgeable birders to help me learn the birds. 

Sparrows are good birds to learn on because there are so many different kinds. It will help to sharpen the eye to the patterns and colors. For experienced birders, the song is the identifier. The location where the bird is found is also another clue to IDing the bird.

Notice how different this Song Sparrow looks from the one above.  At first glance the coloring and the shape look different. However, upon closer look, the markings on the face, behind the eye and on the breast are the same. The bird looks much longer in this pose.  It is just an illusion.  When it turns around, it is easy to see the "stickpin" on the breast.  This bird was singing a spring song in April. Seasonal changes in the coat have taken place and the bird is very busy flitting around, singing at the top of its lungs and finding a mate.

I try not to get discouraged if I misidentify a bird, only become more determined to learn them all. Out of the over 100 species that I have seen since January, I think I can identify about 60 of them easily. The others - well, I'll let you know how that turns out.

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