Monday, October 31, 2016

Song Sparrow

I took this first Song Sparrow photo on 30 September in Carleton College’s Upper Arboretum. The second was taken at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington on 20 Sepember. I am always surprised by how dark Song Sparrows are in the Pacific Northwest. Up to 52 races have been proposed for this variable sparrow; the American Ornithologists’ Union recognizes around 38. 

My Minnesota bird is probably the eastern Melospiza melodia melodia. This race is small, brown, and black streaked. Western Washington Song Sparrows should be Melospiza melodia morphna, which is more brownish than other western races, but darker than eastern ones. The largest of the Song Sparrow races is found on a couple of Aleutian Islands and is dark, gray, and the size of a towhee.

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