Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Clay-colored Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrows are abundant in disturbed, bushy prairies in the north-central United States and in the Canadian prairie provinces.  I photographed the top bird on 24 May 2011 in brushy pastureland near Northfield.  The dark cheek patches and gray nape are diagnostic field marks.

Clay-colored Sparrows feed outside their breeding territories, which include little space beyond their nests.  Clay-colored Sparrows are assumed to be monogamous.  During migration this sparrow travels with other sparrow species; most individuals winter in central Mexico. 

I took the lower photograph at River Bend Nature Center near Faribault on 30 April 2011.  Notice that the Clay-colored Sparrow in the foreground lacks the gray face and rusty crown of the Field Sparrow feeding alongside.  The Field Sparrow's bill is also much brighter pink than the pale bill of the Clay-colored.

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