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October 26, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: White-crowned Sparrow

Winter birds have arrived and one of my favorites is the White-crowned Sparrow. They are a medium-distance migrant that can be seen across most of the US and Mexico during the winter and spend the breeding season in Northern Canada, Alaska and the arctic.

White-crowned Sprarrow

They are usually be seen scratching around on the ground for seeds in low foliage and shrubby areas and along walking trails. This is a bird that will come to backyard feeders to look for sunflower seeds dropped by other birds. A few times I have found them sitting on my feeder. Their distinct white crown with black lines makes them stand out from the ordinary House Sparrow and easy to spot.

A First Year Bird

Immature White-crowned Sparrow

Immature White-crowned Sparrow

One of the challenges for newer birders is identifying the young birds that arrive in the Autumn and Winter. Many of them look very much like their parents are easy to identify like robins and doves. Some of them look entirely different.

The young White-crowned Sparrow seen here on the right is brown during his first year and will not grow adult plumage until spring. This little guy was all fluffed up soaking in the warm morning sunshine when I spotted him last week.
 


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.

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12 Comments

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  1. joyweesemoll / Oct 26 2013 1:10 pm

    Cool to see the immature bird — very different indeed. I definitely see the white crown on the adult bird.

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  2. Vicki / Oct 26 2013 3:12 pm

    Both photos are awesome, but I love the browns of the young bird!

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  3. BermudaOnion / Oct 26 2013 3:38 pm

    What a gorgeous fellow!

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  4. Louise / Oct 26 2013 4:06 pm

    Two great photos, lovely to see the young bird as well, you can definitely see the adult markings, but intriguing that it’s such a different colour.

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  5. Beth Hoffman / Oct 26 2013 4:10 pm

    I haven’t seen a white-crowned sparrow in years and had forgotten how pretty their markings are. Great shot, Leslie!

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  6. WordsAndPeace / Oct 26 2013 4:48 pm

    scary though to see the juncos already around. 3 weeks earlier than previous years according to my own listing

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    • Leslie / Oct 27 2013 9:54 am

      A Junco showed up in my yard on Oct 15th. I checked my field notes from 2012 and I saw the first one on Oct. 22nd at the park, so yeah, a little early.

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      • WordsAndPeace / Oct 27 2013 7:02 pm

        1 week only earlier makes me feel warmer, lol.
        lots of robins at your bird bath this afternoon

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  7. Ginny / Oct 26 2013 5:09 pm

    Once again I am in awe at your photos.

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  8. Suko / Oct 26 2013 8:14 pm

    These photos are truly picture perfect. Please publish a book of your bird photographs. They are the best.

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  9. Arti / Oct 27 2013 9:24 am

    Don’t think I’ve seen this sparrow before, is it blue? ‘Northern Canada’ means not in my area I suppose since I live in Southern Alberta.

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    • Leslie / Oct 27 2013 9:51 am

      The adults are gray. The lighting was giving him a blueish cast. I always manage to find birds with the sun behind them!

      Southern Canada except for British Columbia only sees them during migration. I often find a few of them traveling with a flock White-throated Sparrows during migration. Chicago is on the edge of their winter range so I do see them in during the winter but not in large quantities.

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