Thursday, December 5, 2013

Late Sparrows and Winter Sparrows

American Tree Sparrow
 I stopped by the park this morning thinking of trying to find the Dark-eyed Junco that could be from the Pink-sided subtypes. While the rain was holding off, the sky was gray and heavy. When I arrived at the lower gardens, Dark Eyed Juncos (Slate-colored), Robins, House Finches, and a Cedar Waxwing were all quickly found. I kept looking at the Junco’s hoping to find one with a contrasting gray hood, dark lores, and pinkish sides, but so far everyone seemed like the usual Slate-colored, though a few females were overall browner. I was excited to find this American Tree Sparrow, I completely missed them last winter. The low light made taking pictures much more challenging. I also found a pair of Eastern Towhees that have been hanging on despite the advancing seasons.

Dark-eyed Junco
The Juncos seemed to all be keeping in the brush and only cam out occasionally, they weren’t hanging out in the open to allow easy inspections. I did manage to find a bird that could be a Pink-sided, but I’m not sure that this is the bird that Haynes and Ryan referred to.  In one picture it looks more like a possible Pink-sided and others it just looks more like a brown female of the Slate-colored type, at least I think it is the same bird (see pictures and click to enlarge). Though crosses between all the types make identification really challenging and probably one of the reasons they are all just considered a single species.

Dark-eyed Junco
I then went through the upper gardens and down the path to the river and mostly saw the usual residents. Up in the meadow I picked up another flock of Juncos and then a rusty red sparrow popped out of the Juncos, it was a Fox Sparrow! I had thought they might have moved on by now. While I only have a brief view, it was refreshing to finally find a Fox Sparrow in MA.

I was then hoping to go back to the Juncos in the lower garden, but ran out of time. While the birds seemed to be pretty skittish today and the views were brief, it was still a great morning at the park. (Full list here) 

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