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Tina

Sagebrush or Bell's Sparrow

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Anyone out here an expert on these 2 birds?  I'm on Salton Sea near the State Park headquarters in one of those areas where both can be found so range doesn't help.  Photos are better than anything I can describe.  

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Just took more photos of another "Sage" Sparrow and honestly think I have both the Bell and the Sagebrush here - which is possible.  This new one has a completely plain back and sang the Bell's song.  So, don't worry about trying to figure this one out.  I'll keep working at my several hundred photos of them all.  

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I think they are both Sagebrush Sparrows based on what looks like a very thin malar stripe and blackish streaking on the back. (Quoting from Nat. Geo. 7th)

I will offer the disclaimer that I have no experience with these 2 very similar species. 

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A tricky bird, as the back streaking is quite strong and would seem to be lean towards a Sagebrush Sparrow; on the other hand the malar thickness and darkness seem to indicate a canescens Bell's Sparrow. I honestly think I would lean more towards a canescens Bell's since the back streaking appears to be a dark brown, even with a somewhat high contrast photo, rather than black, and the malar is really quite solid / thick for a Sagebrush. I would definitely look for more opinions (and, ideally, an expert) if you're wanting to know for sure, though!

Edited by tedsandyman

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