Perfect Timing, Mr. White-crowned Sparrow

If you read our last post,One Good Tern Deserves Another, then you will know that Evan incorrectly identified the White-throated Sparrow as the White-crowned Sparrow. Well, this afternoon when I was home alone I happened to be looking out the window when the White-crowned Sparrow dropped by the birch tree out front!  I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn’t seeing yesterday’s White-throated Sparrow. This was a life bird for me and a new yard bird.  Evan was on his way home, and I was hoping the bird would still be around when he got there.  Here are a couple of pictures I took while I waited for Evan.


IMG_3083Do you see how easily it can be misidentified as the White-throated Sparrow?  Below is a picture of the White-throated Sparrow from yesterday so you can see how closely they resemble each other. The White-throated has the yellow patch by the eye, a conspicuous white throat, and a dark bill.  The White-crowned lacks the yellow patch and white throat and has a pink bill.

IMG_3075The sparrow disappeared while I watched.  Evan still wasn’t home.  I was a little worried. I looked a little later and was relieved to now see two of them feeding on the ground by our tree.  I saw the van coming down our street, so I went outside to point the new sparrows out to Evan.  By this time they had flushed into the tree.  When the van door opened and I could explain what was going on, the two birds flew away into our bushes before he saw them.  I told Evan to go wait on the living room couch and just watch out the window.  He did, and he was pretty sad.  He didn’t think he’d get to see them.  I bet we didn’t even wait 5 minutes before they came back.  Whew!  Later on we had three of these birds scratching the ground looking for seed.

Life birds are more fun when shared, and they are even better when they are also new yard birds.  This was our seventh species of sparrow to come to the yard since we’ve started watching birds.  There are a few more species of sparrows that have returned to Minnesota this spring that we have yet to see.  We are hoping the Harris’s Sparrow will decide to visit any day.  I no longer think sparrows are boring.  They’re actually pretty cool.

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