Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mystery solved...

Okay, here it is folks. The result of the first ever, bad bird photo identification quiz.
So, where to start. It’s obviously a sparrow; no one fell for my pathetic attempt to mislead by throwing redpoll in there. Well done! Hurdle one accomplished.
Now, one of the obvious things about it is that it has unstreaked flanks, thus ruling out the likes of song sparrow, fox sparrow, Lincoln’s sparrow and, er, savannah sparrow. So, two down, two remaining.
Staying with the underparts, they appear dull and concolourous, suggestive of either of the two remaining species.  Okay, how about the wings? There is certainly one clear wing bar, and maybe the hint of a second. Again, it could indicate either white-crowned or American tree sparrow. How about the head patter, or at least what’s visible?  Rusty cap, and a dark eye stripe. Hmm, very suggestive of tree, but far from conclusive.
But what about that bill? Very pale orangey colour… on BOTH upper and lower mandible. Ah! That means it has to be white-crowned right? Right. In my limited experience, tree sparrow is a much brighter, paler bird but that's not always easy to detect from a rubbish photo...
So, there we have it. Quite a surprising result! It’s a first winter white-crowned sparrow.  So, congratulations to 31% of you! And thanks for having a go – to be honest, as a relative novice at American bird ID, this has been very instructive for me. I hope it has been for others too.

Results: Savannah Sparrow 18% | White-crowned Sparrow 31% | American Tree Sparrow 50%

I've made the next one a bit less problematic - maybe... it was taken during one my 'pre-residence' visits to BC about 4 years ago.

Incidentally, a male Anna's hummingbird was again in Sutton-Mafeo Park in Nanaimo when I took my daily lunchtime stroll down there. Not much else to get excited about... I even dropped by the Nanaimo River Estuary on my way home from work, as it was almost still light. Thought something crepuscular might be out and about but it was rather quiet.