Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Many Disguises of the Song Sparrow; Olympic Peninsula Nat. Park

Which coat shall I wear today?

A dark Song Sparrow from the Northwest, Kalaloch Beach, Olympic Peninsula Nat. Park, WA; 8/3/2012.
Last week I posted some photos of many Sea Birds hanging around the shorelines at Kalaloch Beach in the Olympic Peninsula National Park from last August.  The area was also very rich with a variety of shore and land birds as well.  The Kalaloch area not only had some fine beach habitat, but also included some nice woodland and grassland areas. Some of these I observed along the coastline include: Bald Eagles, Spotted Sandpipers, Ospreys, belted Kingfishers, American Crows, American Robin, Barn Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Common Ravens, Downy Woodpeckers,  Oregon Juncos, Rufus Hummingbirds, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Stellar Jays, European Starlings, Mourning Doves, Northern Red-Shafted Flickers, Spotted Towhees, and many types of sparrows, including Fox, House, White-crowned, Chipping, Savannah and Song. It was this latter sparrow, the Song Sparrow, that actually gave me the most trouble with identification.
On a dark gray early mourning I was returning from a hike on the beach, when I noticed some dark birds flitting in and out of the bushes along the dirt path leading up from the beach. After a few minutes of waiting for one of them to appear in a clearing, I was able to get a few shots (Above). I guessed these were either the Sooty versions of the Pacific Northwest Fox Sparrows or the Pacific Northwest versions of Song Sparrows, which are darker than the Song Sparrows I am accustomed to back in the Midwest (Below). I was leaning towards the Song Sparrow as my ID, but after reviewing my photos later in the day, I actually wasn't very sure about my Song Sparrow ID.  In the Northwest, both the Song and Fox are dark, but the bill seemed too dark and the back too streaked to be a Fox Sparrow. It had a small yellow spot at the base of the bill, which I thought could be an underdeveloped yellow lower mandible of the Fox, but the streaked back and dark legs pointed away from being a Fox.  No other type of Sparrow made sense, so by default I deemed it to be a Song Sparrow. It still seemed too dark for a Song Sparrow and the black legs and bill with the small yellow spot at the base also seemed out of character. But it still made the most sense out of any other Sparrow that be found in this location.
A Midwest Song Sparrow, Horicon Marsh national Wildlife area, WI; 6/16/2012.
Another Midwest version of the Song Sparrow, Nygren Wetlands, Rockton, IL; 4/5/2012.
As seen in the photos (Above), Song Sparrows in the Midwest are a bit lighter and have more definition in the streaks on their back, wings and flanks. They also have more contrast in their head stripes.
A Song Sparrow in the Southeast, Cherokee, North Carolina; 6/11/2010.
Song Sparrows in the Southeast (Above) are very similar to the Midwest, but seemed a bit lighter overall.
A very red version of a Song Sparrow from the Southwest, San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area, Sierra Vista, AZ; 4/10/2012.
But the song Sparrows from the Southwest Are much redder on their back and side streaks as well as their head stripes (Above).
Song Sparrow, Crystal Cove State Park, CA; 6/13/2011.
Yet another look of the Song Sparrow comes from the California Coast, where the stripes on the head, back, breast and flanks are almost black in contrast with the whiter breast feathers. These Song Sparrows (Above and below) were on the beach of Crystal Cove State Park a year ago.
Another California Coast version of a Song Sparrow, Crystal Cove State Park, Newport, CA; 6/13/2011.

1 comment:

Suz said...

the sparrows have all arrived
I love when they pass through spring and colorful
love your photos