posted August 10th, 2012; last edited August 20th, 2012 –– David Sibley

Quiz 45 – Little Brown Bird Identification

Name the species

Question 1
A
Vesper Sparrow
B
Savannah Sparrow
C
Brewer's Sparrow
D
Sprague's Pipit
E
Baird's Sparrow
Question 1 Explanation: 
The streaked breast eliminates Brewer's Sparrow (since it appears to be singing we can assume this is an adult in breeding season, and therefore not a juvenile). Sprague's Pipit can be eliminated by the behavior (singing from a perch in the open), and the thick bill. The three main contenders are Baird's, Savannah, and Vesper Sparrows, and distinguishing those three at this angle is really tough. Baird's should show more tawny-buff color on the face and breast, so it is not the best fit. Savannah should show a little more, darker, and broader streaking on the breast, and usually yellowish lores (which are white on this bird). All of that leaves Vesper Sparrow as the best (and correct) answer. This photo was taken in June 2012 near Choteau MT, copyright David Sibley.
There is 1 question to complete.

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