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July 12, 2009 / stephanie

brownest of little brown birds…

Bewick’s Wren


I mentioned last week that we got 10 Bewick’s Wrens in one day. But I realized that I have never taken a photo of one! I’m sure they are our 2nd most common species that we catch out here in Brownwood, right after Painted Buntings. We get them at all six of our sites and they just love to fly into the nets. They are tiny, but feisty and a whole lot of fun to extract from a mist net. One time, I had one go completely through a hole in the net (the holes are tiny half-inch squares) and was only caught by his little foot. I’m still not really sure how that happened!

Here is the little Bewick’s Wren in all his glory. They look similar to House Wrens except for the white eyebrow and the black and white tail feathers and they sound remarkably similar to Song Sparrows. I’m sure if there were Song Sparrows singing here I would never be able to tell the difference, but luckily there are thousands of Bewick’s Wrens and no Song Sparrows so I never will get them confused!

And now for the brownest of all little brown birds and the new species of the week…

Huh.. I’m sure I’m not the only one that would look at this bird and think “it looks like a sparrow” and then not really know much more than that! When trying to identify bird species, birders usually look for distinguishing features, like Does it have a colored bill? Does it have markings around the eyes or face? Does it have a reddish cap? Wingbars? Spots or streaking on the breast? In this case, this bird really doesn’t have any of those markings, so what am I to do?

Well the field guide wasn’t especially helpful but we were able to narrow it down based on the pictures and range maps. Then we could refer to the Pyle guide for bird banders. One species had faint white wing bars, black “anchor-shaped” spots on the back and white tips on the outer rectrices (tail feathers).


So our mystery bird must be… a Cassin’s Sparrow! Haha, is that what you guessed too? This is the picture in the Sibley field guide :

Excellent!

Cassin’s Sparrow

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