The equal opportunity groups are filling up my inbox as of late complaining about a disproportionate number of featured male birds.  I find this a bit odd based on the fact that with a number of the recently featured birds it is difficult to actually tell the different sexes.  Quite frankly, in the birding world, typically the male is the more interesting bird to look at.  Of course, this directly correlates to how damn hard it is to identify a lot of the females from each other seeing as most of them are just a different shades of brown.

Case in point, take this bird.

Allerton Park Female House Sparrow - 04/2015

Quick, what is it?  My guess is you came up with the clever response of .. “it’s a bird”  (you know you did hehehe).  The truth is, I couldn’t even tell what this bird was.  Based on a hefty amount of research I first opted to ID it as a Clay-Colored Sparrow.  This might have been more wishful thinking being as I didn’t have a Clay-Colored Sparrow checked off my Bird Life List.

Allerton Park Female House Sparrow - 04/2015

Hit the jump to find out what this bird is!

The part I keyed in on was the prominent beige eyebrow.    The breast was spotless as with the Clay, but the reference pictures showed a bit of light streaking with the Clay.  The specimen here really didn’t have that.  The region looked reasonable from a migration perspective although the Clay spends its summers north and its winters south of here.

Allerton Park Female House Sparrow - 04/2015

I should probably point out that this bird was shot at Allerton Park while birding with my brother Ron.  Pretty sure it was April 2015 (hey, it hasn’t been a full year yet hehehe).  This one was hanging out near the main entrance outside their visitor center.  For the most part it really didn’t mind our presence and kept busy with whatever was keeping its interest around the large fountain.  Just in case you are doing your own research, here is a full back pattern.  This view doesn’t usually help me much with the Sparrows.  However, the shots from the side above do show an intriguing feature – the single white half bar on the wing.

Allerton Park Female House Sparrow - 04/2015

That bar should have been a bigger clue, but I eventually called in the Illinois Birding experts on Facebook (before you go off on me, Linda was kind enough to post it on Facebook for me – my opinion of that social media site still stands).  The members of that page are really good about responding to requests, although they tend to try and give you just enough clues to figure it out for yourself.  This can be annoying at times when you just want the answer – I already put the time into trying to figure it out myself.  Regardless, the result was it was not a Clay-Colored Sparrow.  Nope, it was the female version of yesterday’s bird, the House Sparrow.  Again, the male House is much more distinguishable.   No new check mark, but now I have the female to add to my bird list gallery and a bit smarter on distinguishing those difficult Sparrows.


2 thoughts on “Housewife”

  1. OK, you DID include the female after all. I thought it was a newer capture, but now I realize the female was also at Allerton.

    I think if you ask your wife to post the question on Facebook, then it’s really you that posted on Facebook and therefore you are part of the fabric of social media. I was there when the responses started flowing in, and as I recall we had to look at a number of bird reference pictures to figure out this was a female House Sparrow even with the hints, which were horrible (“not really a sparrow”, etc.).

    I think I have a Clay-Colored Sparrow photo, but I have to go back and view my old pictures, which I’m somewhat dreading.



  2. Yes, I did include the female – I chuckled when I read your comment on the previous post – good to know you don’t cheat and look ahead on my posts.

    I DO NOT USE FACEBOOK – nope, nada, no sirree. Cool people only use Google+ (and no emojis).

    I get a little ticked at that site when they start trying to get all clever on their little hints … and in this case it devolved into old world vs new world and as you stated to be a Sparrow or not to be a Sparrow – just give me the proper ID and what characteristics you used to identify it so I can apply those myself the next time. We at least figured it out.

    Definitely no Clay yet for me bummer


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