Date: 7/15/17 9:00 pm
From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Stymied by a Sparrow
Hi all,

Dave Irons came at this from a different angle than I did (giving more
weight to plumage details rather than structure), so it was interesting
to see that he arrived at the same conclusion, that this is probably a
Savannah Sparrow.

I should also note, the bill is proportionally quite large (in relation
to head size) for a Spizella sparrow, but within the range expected for
a Savannah Sparrow (though on the large end).

It doesn't look to me like one of the normal Willamette Valley Savannah
Sparrows which tend to be more contrasty. It could be an early migrant
from one of the more northern or inland populations.

But I'd like to reinforce the suggestion to pay attention to structure,
when you're looking at sparrows. I was only partly joking a week or two
ago when I suggested that Savannah Sparrows could be a good warm-up
exercise for "stint" season. Both shorebirds and sparrows can be very
confusing, if you only look at plumage details. Paying attention to the
structure of a sparrow can often help to narrow down the options, before
you start to consider plumage details.

A caveat is that we're still in the season where some juvenile sparrows
are still growing out their tail feathers, so you could see young
Chipping Sparrows that don't yet have full-length tails. For those, bill
size and shape are better clues. Also as Dave noted, young Chippers tend
to be more heavily and more coarsely streaked than the bird in Phil's

Happy sparrow watching,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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