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White-crowned Sparrow ssp.


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So you're in Nuttall's territory (Maps), and this looks fine for that as it doesn't have black lores (although I've never seen one, I'm in pugetensis territory). There's various discussions on the finer points of the minor physical differences but honestly I've only been able to do it based on song, as those are quite different by subspecies. I'd suggest looking at the ID info page on allaboutbirds which gives pictures of the various ones and recordings of the various songs.

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Before delving into the ID points that differentiate between the ssp., consider for a moment that you are looking at a WCSP in June in coastal southern CA (carrying food nonetheless). There is only one possibility.

As for ID, the darkish diffuse back pattern (compared to more clean and contrasty pattern in pugetensis and gambelii) and brown interwoven with black at the nape are good indications of nuttalli. I find looking at the pack pattern and folded wing to be the most reliable ways to differentiate between the non-Dark-lored possibilities in CA.

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49 minutes ago, DLecy said:

folded wing

This is great stuff. What's the ID point with the folded wing please?

I clearly misread something because I had thought that nuttalli and pugetensis were virtually indistinguishable physically.

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42 minutes ago, PaulK said:

This is great stuff. What's the ID point with the folded wing please?

I clearly misread something because I had thought that nuttalli and pugetensis were virtually indistinguishable physically.

Nuttali has short primary projection, and pugetensis has longer. There are a few other minor details but that's the best way to tell.

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5 minutes ago, PaulK said:

This is great stuff. What's the ID point with the folded wing please?

I clearly misread something because I had thought that nuttalli and pugetensis were virtually indistinguishable physically.

With regards to nuttalli and pugetensis, since one is migratory and one is a year round resident which some think may not disperse more than a few blocks from the nest site, the length of the primaries on the folded wing can be useful, (but caution is warranted as it's a very difficult feature to see in the field, especially in comparison). 

That being said, what seemed most "off" to me about this bird was the bill color, which verges on orange and seems more indicative of gambelii than nuttalli. While there is some bill color variation in the "yellow-billed' WCSPs, this is perhaps the most orangish bill I have seen. Therefore, I was assuming that the OP was mostly trying to distinguish between gambelii and nuttalli. Maybe I was wrong about that and shouldn't have assumed. Length of pp on the folded wings is much different in these two and the wing bend is different color.

31 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

Nuttali has short primary projection, and pugetensis has longer. There are a few other minor details but that's the best way to tell.

Yes.

Lastly, for anyone interested.

http://creagrus.home.montereybay.com/MTYbirdsWCSP1.html

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8 hours ago, Trevor L. said:

Dude, I use the same one. Why are you getting shots this good? I’d actually like to know.

Most of the time the shots are so sharp because of luck and being relatively close to the bird.

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2 hours ago, PaulK said:

Speaking as another point and shoot user I'd also love to know what kind of settings you use to get shots this crisp.

I'm an amateur photographer so I don't use manual or other settings like that. I just use program.

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