Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

August 18, 2013

Brewer’s Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E III (2x), ISO 400, 1/640th second at f/8, 11/8/11, Gilbert Water Ranch

Sparrows aren’t for everyone. Typically small birds that often prefer secluded locations, with markings that are often difficult to see and even harder to differentiate. Some birders choose to ignore sparrows for the most part, while another type of birder finds the challenge of this difficult group of  birds irresistable.

Sparrows form into mixed flocks in winter, a time when the most distinctive features of plumage can be obscured, making it a prime time to compare birds and look for vagrants. Here in Arizona one of the most common members of mixed flocks is the Brewer’s Sparrow, the subject of this blog post.

Brewer’s Sparrow is on the small side of sparrow size and doesn’t have any outstanding plumage feature. In winter it is very similar to Chipping Sparrow (another common bird in winter in AZ), and Clay-colored Sparrow (a vagrant here).

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D70, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 200, 1/60th second at f/11, flash, 2/25/06, Boyce Thompson Arboretum

I look for the small size and nondescript plumage, then check the facial pattern to separate Brewer’s from Chipping. The rare Clay-colored usually stands out – it has a “cleaner” grayer look to my eye.

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 800, 1/80th second at f/8, 9/18/12, Gilbert Water Ranch

Note the streaked crown and facial pattern (the dark line behind the eye does not extend in front of it).

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D200, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E  (2x), ISO 400, 1/320th second at f/8, 3/13/08, Gilbert Water Ranch

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D200, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E  (2x), ISO 400, 1/320th second at f/8, 3/13/08, Gilbert Water Ranch

This pose shows off the streaked crown to advantage.

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D200, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E  (2x), ISO 400, 1/320th second at f/8, 3/13/08, Gilbert Water Ranch

Typical secluded location for this species.

Brewer's Sparrow

Brewer’s Sparrow

Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 800, 1/60th second at f/5.6, date, Boyce Thompson Arboretum

This open location (the base of a water feature) is less typical of the species, but water is always a draw for birds.

Note the dates for these images (2/25/2006 to 11/8/2011). Gilbert Water Ranch or Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Three different cameras (D70, D200, and D300) but all with the same optics (300/2.8 and TC20E 2x).

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment »

  1. I love to see and photograph Brewer’s Sparrows, they are delightful and subtle. I also adore hearing them sing.

    Comment by Mia McPherson — August 23, 2013 @ 4:30 pm


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