I caught this Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) as it was taking off from its perch back in the spring of 2009. I don’t see them all that often but the other day, while checking on my nest boxes at Palo Cedro Community Park, a little brown job (commonly known as an LBJ) flew up out of the grass as I was walking along the path (click on photos for full sized image).
When I first saw it I thought it was a Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), after all, they are pretty similar looking birds and the Savannah Sparrow is much more common around here.
I found this beauty a short while later. Notice the yellow eyebrow stripe and the primarily white throat, breast and belly. The breast streaked with brown. The Savannah Sparrow also usually has a pale beige median stripe through its crown.
The Lincoln’s Sparrow has a broad, buffy chest band with fine, black streaking continuing down the flanks, contrasting with a white belly. This distinguishes the Lincoln’s Sparrow from all other adult sparrows.
The photograph above was an individual I spotted later, shaded by the oak tree it was perched in. The first Lincoln Sparrow I spotted as it flew up out of the grass, perched on a chain link fence close by in the sun.
Those beautiful colors just pop out at you. The gray eyebrow stripe contrasting with the buffy eye ring and the overall gray head really making the chestnut striped crown stand out.
One of the best ways to tell these two birds apart is by their calls. The Lincoln Sparrow has a much more fluid, wren-like song.
Compared to the Savannah Sparrow.
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