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April 5, 2007 [LINK / comment]
Mystery of the skulking sparrow
(That sounds like the title of a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew book!) There's nothing like a good debate on identifying a vagrant bird of dubious ancestry to get the spring season going. I was pleased that my report of the mystery sparrow on my back patio elicited so many responses from fellow bird enthusiasts: eight people weighed in altogether. Here are the votes so far:
- Lincoln's sparrow (4)
- Swamp sparrow (4)
- White-throated sparrow (2)
- Song sparrow (1)
I counted multiple votes for those who suggested more than one possibility or who changed their minds after reading others' observations. Jay Keller was quite certain that is a Swamp sparrow, swaying others' impressions. I should have put more emphasis on the small apparent size: about that of a Chipping sparrow, I would say. That plus the skulking, shy behavior and the plumage made me think it was a Henslow's sparrow, but that was before I realized how rare it is in this area. (Didn't anybody click on the blank white space to see what I thought?) Also, I could not discern any olive coloring in the head, which is a field mark for the Henslow's sparrow, and the auricular patterns are not quite right, either; see the photo of one my brother John took. It just didn't look big enough to be a Swamp or White-throated sparrow; and I've never heard of Song or Lincoln sparrows with ruddy coloring. Of course, this was the exact same spot where the famous Western tanager appeared three years ago, so perhaps it is some kind of cosmic convergence zone for rare birds.
CLICK ON THIS PHOTO to see a (mediocre) 45-second video clip that may help to resolve the question. (Mouse rollover for comparison to previous photo.) I took the video yesterday, at the same time as I took the still photos, in which the brightness and contrast are adjusted to minimize the glare distortion. (Doing so for digital video would take an hour or more.) To me, the buffy whiskers and small size make the early favorite -- Lincoln's sparrow, originally picked by YuLee, Crista, Charles Z., and Allen -- more likely. Whatever it was, it stayed in our backyard through this afternoon, and I'll post a notice early in the morning if I still see it. If anyone comes to visit, note that there is a new condo building across the street from Lee High School training field.
Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 30 Jul 2007, 5: 55 PM
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January 4, 2007 ~ 110th Congress: open for business
January 24, 2007 ~ The State of the Union, 2007
March 28, 2007 ~ Mark Steyn's America Alone
April 19, 2007 ~ Senator Hanger comes to Staunton
April 30, 2007 ~
Sen. Hanger's campaign kick-off
June 1, 2007 ~
Stars shine for Senator Hanger
June 12, 2007 ~
Republicans In Name Only? You be the judge!
June 13, 2007 ~
How sweet: Reason prevails
June 24, 2007 ~
SWAC bloggers air dirty laundry
August 13, 2007 ~ Hasta la vista, Karl Rove
August 21, 2007 ~
Fading dreams of democracy
August 6, 2007 ~
Nats sweep World Champion Cards!
September 23, 2007 ~ Au revoir, RFK Stadium
October 18, 2007 ~ Nationals 2007: Year in review
October 25, 2007 ~
Augusta County Campaign 2007
October 29, 2007 ~ Red Sox sweep Rockies; Dynasty?
November 7, 2007 ~ Democrats win Virginia Senate
December 14, 2007 ~ The Mitchell Report is released
December 29, 2007 ~
The death of Benazir Bhutto
December 31, 2007 ~ Baseball 2007: Year in Review
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Blog highlights have been compiled for the years 2010-2012 thus far, and eventually will be compiled for earlier years, back to 2002.
The "home made" blog organization system that I created was instituted on November 1, 2004, followed by several functional enhancements in subsequent years. I make no more than one blog post per day on any one category, so some posts may cover multiple news items or issues. Blog posts appear in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the chronological order in which the posts were originally made:
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