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.
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.
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.
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.
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.