Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bird a Day: Clay-colored Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

The Clay-Colored Sparrow is a small, five inch bird with black streaked brown upperparts and buff underparts. The face is pale with a finely streaked crown, brown cheek patch, white eye stripe and a gray nape. Their song is a series of three to five identical raspy buzzes.
They can usually be found breeding from north-central Canada & Great Lakes region south to Colorado and Michigan. They spend winter from the southern tip of Texas to points south. Very rarely would they be seen in Kentucky! However, I had a very lucky encounter with one of these sparrows on Mother’s Day! I went to Shippingport Island to check on the Ospreys, and saw this little guy foraging around very close to where I was standing. I snapped a few pictures and went on my way, not realizing how rare of a sight I had just witnessed.
I was unsuccessful identifying this sparrow on my own, so while on a field trip with Beckham Bird Club, I showed the picture to Eddie Huber, who was leading the trip. He and some of the other members felt certain it was a Clay-Colored Sparrow. I sent the picture on to Brainard Palmer-Ball to complete the confirmation.

Clay-colored Sparrow

I only wish I had known what I was seeing so I could have posted it on BirdKY. It would’ve been nice if other birders could have observed him as well. I guess that is one of the pitfalls of being a newbie bird watcher.

Clay-colored Sparrow

I have done some research on the Clay-Colored Sparrow, and discovered a few things I would like to share.
- Clay-Colored Sparrows tend to forage outside of their nesting area, which gives them a smaller area to defend. This is unusual behavior, as most birds defend a larger area that includes their feeding grounds.
- Brown-Headed Cowbirds frequently parasitize Clay-Colored Sparrow nests. They will sometimes abandon the nest, but often stay and raise the Cowbird young. This can be problematic since the Cowbird young are larger than the sparrow babies and tend to monopolize the food brought by the foster parents. Very often some of the sparrow babies do not survive.
- Clay-Colored Sparrows can often be found in large flocks of various other birds, including Brewers Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows and Lark Buntings.

I reported my sighting on eBird and they have confirmed the identification, as well. I also have the privilege of having one of my photos in the eBird rarity flickr group. This group can be accessed here.


Kelly said...

Oh wow! What a great find. I've never seen one in Cincy... He's a beautiful little his head markings.

Karen Bonsell said...

Thanks Kelly! I thought he was pretty cute too!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Walgreens Printable Coupons