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August 10, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Savannah Sparrow

The Savannah Sparrow is a common but inconspicuous bird and can be found in grassy areas across most of North America. They tend to stay down in the grass, out of sight. This bird was swooping in and out of the grass carrying bugs and probably had a nest nearby,

I rarely encounter a Savannah Sparrow that poses much less stays still for more than a second, so I was thrilled when he paused for a moment and allowed me to get these shots. Unfortunately the lighting was at the wrong angle so the color tones are a little faded, but birds are notorious for not being cooperative subjects.

Savannah Sparrow

There are many different kinds of sparrows and they can be tricky to identify. From a distance they all look like little brown birds, but if you look closely there are subtle differences.

The Savannah has a small yellow patch on the face in front of the eye, a smallish head, short tail and pink bill. They look similar to the more commonly seen Song Sparrow, but the Song Sparrow is a slightly larger bird with bolder streaking and no yellow patch.

An interesting fact: The bird is named after Savannah, Georgia, where it was first discovered.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. For the summer it will be hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. Christine Harding / Aug 10 2013 2:33 am

    Amazing photo – he markings and colours on the feathers are so clear. I have butterfly pictures, but they are not as sharp as I would like


  2. Louise / Aug 10 2013 3:03 am

    Birds are terrible subjects! And small birds are particularly difficult of course. Even with binoculars they’re hard, it’s worse with a camera. I always joke that they can me focus the binoculars and that is their cue to fly away. Well done for getting an in focus picture of such a small bird. It has purple tonings on my screen, which I suspect that it may not really have, I’d like to think that there’s a sparrow out there with a purple mohawk though.


    • Leslie / Aug 10 2013 10:50 am

      No, no purple, just browns. I had to adjust the levels in photoshop to get the green tones down. I thought I had set the white balance ok, but shooting towards bright sun made it difficult. And as you know, the birds won’t wait while we fiddle with camera settings! I was happy with the focus and his little crown sticking up.


  3. Brona / Aug 10 2013 4:41 am

    Well captured. I love his yellow eyebrow!


  4. BermudaOnion / Aug 10 2013 8:32 am

    Savannah deserves to have a bird named for it. Lovely photo even if the lighting isn’t perfect.


  5. Paulita / Aug 10 2013 8:47 am

    I love the way his feathers prickle up on top of his head. Makes me think he’s a teenage bird. Here’s Mine


    • Leslie / Aug 10 2013 10:58 am

      He was putting that crest up and down. I think he was a little annoyed that a group of us was standing in his territory.


  6. laurelrainsnow / Aug 10 2013 9:09 am

    Ah, love that bird and that name…I was thinking: like a Southern belle, and then you mentioned its roots in Georgia. Perfect!

    Thanks for sharing, and enjoy. Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST


  7. Arti / Aug 10 2013 9:24 am

    I’m such a novice when it comes to sparrows. There are quite a few species here, and I see a lot of them, but never able to pinpoint exactly what they are. I suppose the Savannah isn’t near my area. Thanks for this info.


    • Leslie / Aug 10 2013 10:56 am

      Yes it is, they breed throughout Canada in the summer. Problem is, they hide in the grass, and their song isn’t very descriptive so they get overlooked.


  8. Peggy@Peggy Ann's Post / Aug 10 2013 9:46 am

    You got a great shot! Birds are so hard to catch!


  9. Sharon Chance / Aug 10 2013 1:34 pm

    What a calming photo – love the colors of the sparrow! Thanks for sharing!


  10. irene / Aug 10 2013 2:14 pm

    You are one tricky bird watcher, catching them in wonderful poses. I love the differences you mentioned, do you actually see the difference before you capture them on film?


    • Leslie / Aug 11 2013 8:29 am

      You need lots and lots of patience with birds. I identify them with binoculars first, then I creep in closer and set up the shot. That’s if the bird hasn’t flown away or hid behind a leaf!


  11. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Aug 10 2013 8:28 pm

    Such a perfect catch – lovely


  12. joyweesemoll / Aug 10 2013 10:17 pm

    Great capture! I love that I can see the yellow bit by the eye. I remember identifying a song sparrow once, but I’ve never knowingly saw a Savannah sparrow.


    • Leslie / Aug 11 2013 8:30 am

      From a distance they do look like Song Sparrows, but the Savannah doesn’t sing. When I see one that isn’t singing I grab the binoculars and check for the yellow patch.


  13. Beth F / Aug 11 2013 7:16 am

    I’m not sure I’ve seen this bird. We have a ton of sparrows, but I don’t think this one comes to my yard. I’ll have to check out it’s range.


    • Beth F / Aug 11 2013 7:16 am

      its range (shoot)


    • Leslie / Aug 11 2013 8:25 am

      They breed across the US and Canada in the summer so you should have them but they rarely go to backyards. They’re in the prairies but they stay low in the grass most of the time. They look like a Song Sparrow from a distance and you need binoculars to see the yellow, so most people never notice them even if they do see one.


  14. Suko / Aug 11 2013 8:39 pm

    Another perfect photo–the Savannah is so pretty! 🙂


  15. MarthaE / Aug 12 2013 10:37 pm

    What a wonderful photo! Great job!


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