A couple of days ago I mis-identified this bird as being a Lincoln’s Sparrow on my blog. I would like to correct myself. After reviewing some photos I have a Lincoln’s it became readily apparent to me that this was a Song Sparrow and not a Lincoln’s sparrow. So, how did I get the two mixed up? Well, song sparrows can have a wide variety of plumages. When I saw this bird in the bush, I noticed the buffy breast overlaid with dark streaking and the buffy auricular circle or stripe. These are characteristics of a Lincoln’s sparrow, but this bird is much too chunky for the Lincoln’s and the streaking far too dark and heavy. Below you can see a true Lincoln’s sparrow held by Bill Hilton, Jr. at the New River Birding and Nature Festival I attended in 2009.
We were Birding by Butt on this day and we started the day watching a demonstration of the birds being banded after being caught in the mist nest set up that morning. When Bill held up the bird he asked anyone who knew what it was to raise their hand. I was the only ne there who could identify it as Lincoln’s sparrows are very secretive. However, I had just recently seen one in my yard in Sycamore Canyon in Arizona, where I lived at the time. since I knew what bird it was, I was given the privilege of releasing the bird after it was banded. I was simply in heaven! You can see the photos and read more in the links below, but today I want to make the point that this is a tiny sparrow, very delicate, with a buffy eye-ring, buffy malar stripe, and buffy breast overlaid with fine dark streaks. By looking at these two photos you can see the obvious difference. It always pays to take a second look. I have corrected the identification on my first post and in eBird. I hope this post helps you in your quest to learn how to identify these challenging sparrows!
- New Birds at the Feeders (My first Lincoln’s sparrow sighting)
- Sycamore Canyon Spring Birds (Lincoln’s Sparrow photos)
- New River Birding and Nature Festival Birding by Butt
- Sycamore Canyon (My Other Birding Blog)