The Allerton House

We are officially in bonus time ladies and gents.  Not bad seeing as how it is only the 20th – no whining about being down posts this month.  There’s more than one reason this month is special – I finally overcame my demons today and managed to knock out three loops during our weekly Sunday Springdale Run.  That’s right, 20 miles in the books on the nasty hillfest we torture ourselves about every weekend these days.  The third loop has been my nemesis for over a year now – every time before I end up begging for mercy at the end of the second loop regardless of how well I felt at the end of the first.  This time we held back a bit on the second loop too keep from tiring our legs out.  There is a theory that there was some help from the Girl Scouts but further testing is needed before we can definitely say we have found a running secret!  Note, I was so happy I checked this life list item off I enjoyed a Shamrock Shake – a rarity based on the calorie count that decadent dessert possesses – figured with over 2500 burned off  during the run I could spare a few to indulge.

20 miles also signifies something else – I’m gonna need some time to rest the legs.  Not one to waste a perfectly good afternoon, figured it could be spent cranking out this bonus entry.  Now I’d like to introduce you to the House Sparrow.

House Sparrow Shot at Allerton Park

This happens to be one of the few Sparrows I can easily identify in the field.  The black laced necklace of the male in these shots is easy to spot and distinctive enough to ID.  At some point I’m going to distill all the key features of the various Sparrow members so my brother and I can quickly classify all the little brown jobbers that end up in the tin after any Midwest outing.

House Sparrow Shot at Allerton Park

Hit the jump to see and read more about this common North American bird.

Continue reading The Allerton House

Project Chekov: Sparrows, Swifts and Swallows

Today is one of those difficult days in the birding realm.  If you have spent any time with this blog you probably know by now that when it comes to Sparrows I generally throw in the towel.  There just isn’t enough differences discernible in the field to really come out confident on what you have in the tin.  There are also difficulties when it comes to the Swallows and Swifts so figured it was time to get them all out of the way.

Let’s start with the Sparrow.  Now, throughout this post please keep in mind that the identification can be freely debated and if you know specifics please share!  With that, this is a small brown and gray bird so we’ll tag it with Sparrow.

Admittedly, this on is a little darker hued that we see and it has some darker tones in the under feathering along the neck.  One cause may due to the fact that this shot (and the one below) were taken in a storm which may have deepened the colors from either the wetness or the clouds.

I do like the picture and why I tell everyone there is no reason to get down if their designated day to hit the field turns out dreary.  Sure, you’ll need to tap that ISO dial up a bit and probably even back off the shutter speed but you have one thing going for you.  The rain tends to slow down the birds and cause them to spend a little more time on their perches (under cover of leaves of course).  For the hyper birds this is a godsend when it comes to getting shots of them.  UPDATE: By the way, while doing  quick search for one of the pictures below I stumbled on the House Sparrow which does match the neck coloring – pretty darn close in my opinion so let’s go with that for now.

Here is another Sparrow likely taken in a similar setting.

If I had to take a guess, the reference books tend to point to a Chipping Sparrow with that rust cap and eye-line.  Small, brown, gray … it’s a Sparrow in my book – any finer classification is just icing on the cake.  Again, I do like how the composition came out on these two shots – the branches seem to push the viewer’s eyes right to the desired focus of attention – granted it is just Sparrow.

Hit the link to read more about this difficult to identify set of birds.

Continue reading Project Chekov: Sparrows, Swifts and Swallows