Most Recent Sightings

Krider's Red Tail Hawk

February 8, 2005

Beside Interstate 20, 10 miles north of Natchitoches, La.

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Chipping Sparrow?

February 6, 2005

These small sparrows have been at my parents house for months. Are they chipping sparrows?

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The photos on this page were taken on February 6, 2005, at my parents home near Elmer, Louisiana. My parents have a 10 acre farm that is basically a clearing in the middle of pine and hardwood forest. They put out a birdfeeder and it consistently draws a greater variety of birds than mine. A number of sparrows have been coming to that feeder and I took a photo of a bird that I tentatively identified as a chipping sparrow. A friend who is more familar with these birds suggested that it might be another type.

The sparrow in question.

The bird appeared at the feeder in a group of 25 or so similar birds. There were also juncos, cardinals and goldfinches present. The following photo is shown for a size comparison among the birds present.

Sparrow with Goldfinch and Cardinal

As you can see from the photo this is a very small sparrow, approximately the same size or just slightly smaller than the Goldfinch next to it.

Two sparrows discussing elbow room.

For now, I will continue to identify these birds as Chipping Sparrows on my Birds Of My Backyard page largely based on the image of the Chipping Sparrow in winter on page 299 of the Peterson Field Guide titled "Birds of Eastern and Central North America, Fifth Edition." But even that text shows several possibilities based on coloration.


Why I think this is a Chipping Sparrow.

After much consultation, advice and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that this is a Chipping Sparrow because of the exclusion of the possible altermatives, as follows:

This is not a Clay Colored Sparrow because:

1.     Lore is dark, i.e., dark line extends from eye to top of beak

2.     No streaks on the flank.

3.     Gray Rump

4.     No yellow lower beak

5.     Gray does not extend to Nape

6.     Face is not gray

This is not a Tree Sparrow because:

1.     No dark spot on breast


This is not a female house sparrow because:

1.     Too small


  © Copyright 2005 Eric J. Miller. All Rights Reserved.