Date: 4/4/18 4:03 pm
From: Derek C. Richardson <dcr...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Re: help: unusual sparrow -- Laurel Lake

Hello everyone,

Here's the information I pulled out of my audio notes from the morning on
the mystery sparrow I saw at Laurel Lake:

- sparrow
- white median crown stripe between thicker dark bands
- pale bill, seemed large, making pointed face
- distinctive yellow lores
- strong white eyering, making wide-eyed expression
- gray eyebrow
- darker line behind the eye, widens near(?) auriculars
- pale/buff face, throat, and breast (not white)
- fine streaking on throat, coarser lower down flanking belly
- 2 buff wingbars
- cryptic pattern of brown, gray, & rufous edged with white on upperparts
- distinct white edging on primaries(?) folded on back
- medium-length tail
- pink legs & feet
- at edge of lake in coarse vegetation (small purple flowers)
- seen at medium to close distance through fence with good light; windy
- no vocalization

Now that I have my Sibley's, and with these notes and my recollection, I
favor Grasshopper Sparrow, but I'd sure like a second opinion lol. I do
recall thinking I saw a flash of yellow near where the sides meet the
wing, but didn't note it in the recording for some reason. The fieldmarks
that are a little problematic I think are the wingbars (but a few photos I
found show paler edging to the coverts) and the streaking on the throat
(most pictures I found show unstreaked throat), but the streaking wasn't
super distinctive; far more prominent was the buffy coloration of the face
and throat. I have only seen (confirmed) Grasshopper Sparrows a few times
as a birder, ironically at larger distance, and they were singing.

Here's my full list for the short walk. Rod Burley added 4 Chipping
Sparrows when he searched for our mystery bird a little later (without

Laurel Lake/Granville Gude Park, Prince George's, Maryland, US
Apr 4, 2018 10:18 AM - 10:50 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.013 mile(s)
Comments: A chance walk around the lake produced a surprising sparrow
that I think was Grasshopper.
26 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 35
Mallard 7
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Black Vulture 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 2
Ring-billed Gull 1
American Crow 5
Fish Crow 15
crow sp. 3
Barn Swallow 2
Carolina Wren 3
American Robin 8
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 30
Cedar Waxwing 12
Grasshopper Sparrow 1 (see notes above)
White-throated Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 4
Northern Cardinal 3
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 3
Common Grackle 12
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 20

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

On Wed, 4 Apr 2018, Derek C. Richardson wrote:
> All,
> On the east side of Laurel Lake (PG County), i.e., closest to Rte 1, toward
> Olive Garden, in the coarse vegetation on the side of the lake (on the lake
> side of the wire fence, and near one of the cement drain(?) structures), I
> had a sparrow that reminded me most of LeConte's or Grasshopper -- from
> memory: yellow lores, white eye ring (making the bird look wide-eyed), buff
> underparts with light streaking (heaviest on the sides of the belly), white
> crown stripe, gray eyebrow, dark patch at end of thin eyeline, cryptic back
> pattern of brown and black edged with white, but also hints of rufous, maybe
> more yellow on the side, medium-length tail, pale bill, pale/pink legs. No
> camera, no field guide, and no time lol (had to leave). I have audio notes
> that I'll go through later, but likely not until this evening.
> If anyone is in the area and can have a look, that would be great!
> This was around 10:45 am.
> D

Derek C. Richardson, Laurel, PG County, MD

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