I was looking for Burrowing Owls on the northeast corner of the park when a scurrying low in the fennel caught my eye. The scurrier was definitely not an owl. It was a sparrow. But what kind of sparrow? The orange beak and the reddish stripes on the head threw me. I combed the Cornell bird site and the Audubon site looking at sparrows. Song? No. House? No. Field? No. Lincoln? No. And so on. It gave me a bit of a headache. Then, by pure luck, I saw a photo of an immature White-crowned Sparrow: orange beak, reddish stripes on head. Bingo! The mature White-crowned are really easy to identify: black and white stripes on head. They’re quite common in the park in fall and winter. The youngsters, like this one, just need a bit more time to develop those iconic grown-up colors.
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