This morning, Maggie Boswell and I saw a bird that we believed to be a Harris's Sparrow at the Boulder Community Gardens in Boulder County. See the photos below.
The ID kind bothers me. The bird has no black on its breast and very little on its forehead. Instead, what streaking there is on the breast is light brown. It's facial pattern also seems weak.
I considered a young Golden-crowned Sparrow. But, the bill seems too orange for GCSP. Also, authors Rising and Beadle in "The Sparrows of the United States and Canada" state that first-winter HASP may show no black on the chest, but that the cheek of a HASP should be ochre. In one of my photos, the cheek does look a bit ochre-ish, but in the other photo the cheek leans more toward gray. HASP should have a post-ocular stripe, a suggestion of a mustachial stripe, and a malar stripe. This bird seems to have a slight malar stripe and not much else, more like GCSP.
Is this bird a faintly colored young Harris's? A young Golden-crowned? A Golden-crowned x Harris's hybrid? Something else?