Date: 7/26/17 4:29 pm From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...> Subject: [obol] Fwd: Re: Possible Vesper Sparrow at Ankeny's Pintail Marsh
Hi Tim and All,
It sounds like the sparrow you saw could well have been a Vesper Sparrow. Thanks for taking the time to check for bands, and for mentioning that the bird was unbanded. This seems like a good time to remind MidValley birders to be on the lookout for banded Vesper Sparrows, and please report any banded sparrows that you see.
The nesting season for Vespers is coming to a a close. This morning Bob Altman and I checked the last two nests that we knew of that were still active. Both nests showed signs that the youngsters had "fledged" by hopping away from the nest, though they were still within 50 m or of of the nest and probably not yet capable of sustained flight (unlike arboreal species, ground-nesting grassland birds typically don't wait until they can fly to leave the nest).
Meanwhile, the main wave of juvenile Vesper Sparrows that fledged earlier this summer have gotten good at flying, so they could soon be dispersing away from nesting areas. A few adults that didn't nest successfully might have already started to move around.
So ... odds are improving that you might see one of the 170+ Vesper Sparrows that have been banded in the first two years of this project, wandering away from their core nesting sites. If you do see a banded sparrow, please try to note the band colors (or get a photo, if you can! ) and let us know when and where you saw it.
There should be two bands on each leg:
On the bird's right leg, the bottom band will be aluminum (it can look whitish in the field). The band above that will be colored (usually red, orange, yellow, green, black, or light blue depending on the banding site -- we also have a few birds with brown bands which turns out to be a really hard color to see in the field). If you see a bird with a dark blue band on its right leg, that might be a migrant from a site in Washington's Puget Sound region, which would be really exciting -- and also really unlikely, since that population is really small!
On the bird's left leg, there could be any combination of those colors. Please note which color is on top (for example, "yellow over orange" versus "orange over yellow").
It would be great if we get a few sightings of these banded birds, to help figure out where they go and what kind of habitats they use in the post-breeding season.
Thanks & happy sparrow-watching! Joel
On Tue, 2017-07-25 at 12:30 -0700, Tim Johnson wrote:
> Yesterday while walking from the Pintail Marsh parking lot out to Mohoff Marsh, I saw what I think was a vesper sparrow perched on top of a willow on the left side of the trail. The small sparrow had a bold, white, complete eye ring. I only got a brief look at the bird and wasn't able to study it in detail. I couldn't tell if it had a brown patch on its shoulder or white outer tail feathers. The eye ring was so striking it completely captured my attention. It lacked a yellow tint and eyebrow of a savannah sparrow. It also lacked any leg bands. >