río embudo birds

Identification Practice for the
Dixon Christmas Bird Count


Winter Sparrows (New and Old World)

Winter Sparrows

The table above shows all of the counts for sparrows and juncos for 15 years of the Dixon CBC. (The House Sparrow, which is not in the same family as the other sparrows, is included because the grouping is about identification of species that appear similar in the field.)

The "Individuals" column at the right shows that there were 13,344 sparrows and juncos counted in 15 years.

The next column shows the percentage of that total represented by each species. More than 99% of all sparrows and juncos were accounted for by just 4 species.

The table below compares those four species.


English Name:
Genus species:
CommentsPhotos
Sparrows and their Allies in Winter
These four species account for 99.92% of all Sparrows and Juncos counted.
Dark-eyed Junco
Junco hyemalis


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External Sites:
Cornell
USGS
Image Search
In winter, there are 5 sub-species of Dark-eyed Junco in our area. Many have a full black or gray hood. All have a dark eye set in dark plumage.

Almost always in flocks of 10-20 individuals. Identifiable by a very "dry" sounding "tck-tck" and by white showing on the sides of the tail, especially in flight.

Do a an Image Search (at left) to get an idea of the great variation in the plumage of this species.

White-crowned Sparrow
Zonotrichia leucophrys


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External Sites:
Cornell
USGS
Image Search
Adult (Upper Photo): Distinctive black and white stripes on head. Light colored bill. Clear breast and belly.

Juvenile (Lower Photo): Head stripes brown and gray.

House Sparrow
Passer domesticus


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External Sites:
Cornell
USGS
Image Search
Common across the continental U.S., this species is generally found around human habitation.

The female (upper picture) is fairly plain with a weak, white eyebrow.

The male (lower picture) has black on the throat, a strong dark mask: often black in front of eye, reddish-brown (rufous) behind the eye.

Often in noisy flocks of 5-15 individuals.

Embudo Valley Library, Dixon

Nob Hill, Albuquerque
Song Sparrow
Melospiza melodia


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External Sites:
Cornell
USGS
Image Search
This sparrow is rarely seen more than 50 yards from the river and is often right in the willows at the river's edge.

Dark back, with streaks on breasts and sides joining a dark central spot.

Has a distinctive flight highlighted by a fairly long, rounded tail.

El Bosque
This rare vagrant is easy to identify once you know the White-crowned Sparrow.
White-throated Sparrow
Zonotrichia albicollis


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External Sites:
Cornell
USGS
Image Search
Similar to White-crowned Sparrow.

Note the yellow lores and the white-throat.

Rare, but when present, seen mixed in flocks of White-crowneds.

Photo: Arthur Chapman, Ontario, Canada
The other 0.05%.
Swamp SparrowMelospiza georgianaRare Winter Vagrants
Rufous-crowned SparrowAimophila ruficepsRare Winter Visitors
American Tree SparrowSpizella arboreaRare Winter Visitors
Savannah SparrowPasserculus sandwichensisRare Winter Vagrants
Harris's SparrowZonotrichia querulaRare Winter Vagrants

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