Of course you know how it all starts out. Going to do one thing, then end up doing another! The rain ceased today, this morning actually, and I walked to the pond the see if it was overflowing (it was, but that’s another post). As I walked by the brush pile I had stacked for several years, I saw these birds flitting in the old mesquite stems and thorns. I thought: Ah, more white-crowned sparrows. I know you. I see you all the time.
Wrong. I got back to the house, downloaded or uploaded the pics and they aren’t white-crowned, they have rufous coloring on their top. How did I see white in the field? Okay, I was mistaken. Not the first time, nor the last. Fair enough, I go to the Peterson’s. There are several species of sparrows! I knew that, but what rufous is it? Ruffous-crowned, Ruffous-winged? I finally broke down and went to the photo editor that I have, the Hewlett-Packard all-encompassing uber-editor to enlarge the photo and get some closer definition of attributes. I take photographs with the full pixel rating: seven, eight megabytes of pixels so I can enlarge and view detail. Yes, I know. I am running out of space on my desktop after three years of blogging. And, this is what I enlarged:
I go back and forth in my Peterson’s looking at all the sparrows, even the larks for goodness sakes. Tail is rounded, mustache? What’s a mustache on a bird? I go to my Audubon field guide, but it does not even list any rufous sparrows. Oh, it’s an eastern region Audubon. Figure that, will you?
I getting really frustrated not finding any attribute that is a definite signature until I look at the beak. The beak. It’s pink or brownish and the identity is finally achieved. It is a Field sparrow with rusty cap, pink bill — a Spizella pusillad.* It’s note is a tsee, having a ‘querulous’ quality. Thanks to Peterson’s, I am relieved of puzzlement and doubt.
Starting out to check the pond, I end up spending time identifying a bird. You know, the one with a pink beak and querulous quality to its note.
*Notes, corrections and additions:
For possible error in identity, please see the comments from Caralee and Rubia below. The link provided by Caralee shows the Rufous-winged Sparrow in several colored photographs that correspond to my photographs of a ‘Field sparrow.’ A factor analysis is in progress to resolve identity.
- White-crowned Sparrow (arozinov.wordpress.com)
- hello, I’m an American Song Sparrow (fluffyflurries.wordpress.com)