Date: 7/15/17 3:28 pm
From: David Irons <LLSDIRONS...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Stymied by a Sparrow

Phil, Jeff et al.,

I would be interested to know exactly where along the Clackamas River this bird was seen and photographed. Juvenile sparrows, specifically Spizella are really challenging to ID at times. My first instinct was to presume this was presume Chipping, as that would seem to be the most likely species. However, there are number of features that point way from Chipping as a candidate. First, the lores are pale with no suggestion of the dark eyeline extending in front of the eye (between the bill and the eye). Note that the juv. Chipping Sparrow at the link that Jeff provides shows dark lores, which is typical of all ages of Chipping Sparrow.

The second problem with calling this a Chipping is the sparseness of the streaking below and how fine the streaking is on the underparts. Juvenile Chipping Sparrows show rather heavy streaking that extends all the way down the underparts at this season. Hatch-year Chipping Sparrows seem to hold their juvenile plumage, or at least elements of it, longer than other sparrow species. They typically show extensive streaking below well into August and sometimes early September. This streaking extends fairly evenly well down on the underparts (as seen on the bird at Jeff's link) with no cutoff at mid-breast. Phil's bird is at best sparsely and finely streaked below and there seems to be a marked cutoff to the streaking (except along the flanks) about mid-breast. This look is more typical of Lincoln's and Savannah Sparrows and not at all typical of a juvenile Chipping Sparrow.

Another issue as it relates to Chipping Sparrow is the combination of a strong dark malar mark below the broad defined tan moustachial stripe, which are quite prominent on Phil's bird. Chipping Sparrows, even juvs, typically show a very weak malar mark and a poorly-defined to absent moustachial stripe. This prominent malar and broad tan moustachial stripe above it are good marks for Lincoln's Sparrow and Savannah. There is one photo that seems to show quite a bit of yellow in the supraloral area (forward section of the supercilious), which points to Savannah Sparrow.

The fairly conspicuous wingbars pretty much rule out Lincoln's in my opinion. This bird also doesn't seem to be dark enough above for a Lincoln's. This is a very challenging bird, but I would lean in the direction of it being a Savannah Sparrow, with no farms wagered. Over the years I taken a number of photos of juvenile Chipping, Brewer's, Savannah Sparrows and I don't recall seeing one that looked quite like this bird.

Dave Irons
Beaverton, OR

From: <obol-bounce...> <obol-bounce...> on behalf of Jeff Gilligan <jeffgilligan10...>
Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2017 9:12 PM
To: <pandmnosler...>
Cc: OBOL Birders Online
Subject: [obol] Re: Stymied by a Sparrow

It looks like an immature Chipping Sparrow to me. Not much unlike the one in this link:


Young Chippies tend o show up in somewhat unexpected locations this time of year. The bold post-ocular line, prominent malar stripe and moustachial line, and pale bill all look good for a Chippie to me.

Jeff gilligan

On Jul 15, 2017, at 1:21 PM, Peter Nosler <pandmnosler...><mailto:<pandmnosler...>> wrote:

Hello, OBOL

Can anyone please offer an identification for this sparrow? I found it along the Clackamas River today. I was thinking it might be a Spizella of some sort, but I can't find any images that really match this bird well. I also thought it might be a Lincoln's Sparrow, but I didn't see any silver above the eye, which always stands out to me on a Lincoln's Sparrow. Maybe it's an off looking or juvenile Savannah Sparrow?

You can see four pictures of the bird here:

Thanks for your help,
Phil Nosler

Join us on Facebook!