Savannah Sparrow

Hey guys welcome back! Today we have yet another little streaked sparrow. There’s certainly no shortage of them! Despite this, these guys are actually fairly easy to ID provided you get a decent look at them. Savannah sparrows are in some ways your typical streaky sparrow, but their streaks are thinner than a song sparrow, and their bellies whiter. The telltale is the small patch of yellow above their eyes!

Although they love tall grass, they aren’t named after the grassland habitat (that would be savanna without an “h” at the end.) They are actually named after Savannah, Georgia. The species was first described by 19th century ornithologist Alexander Wilson based on a specimen he collected in the Georgia city. I find this kind of interesting because anyone that’s a birder may recognize the name. Wilson was probably the most influential ornithologist before Audubon, and there are 5 species of bird that share his name, including the Wilson’s warbler and Wilson’s snipe (both of which we’ll cover later in this blog.) I just find it funny that we didn’t end up with this bird being the Wilson’s sparrow haha!

Savannah Sparrow2
Savannah sparrow at the ballfields, Randall’s Island Park, NY

The Savannah sparrow is the first “rare” species of sparrow I remember seeing. They aren’t actually all that rare, and are quite widespread throughout North America. No, when I say “rare” I mean that they were the first sparrow species I remember seeing that wasn’t super common. This was right as I was really learning my sparrows too. For a long time, I only looked for the yellow above their eye. Took me a while (and seeing a few more of them) to realize that there’s subtle color differences as well. Still, I’ve not seen a ton of Savannah’s so I do get a bit of a thrill every time I see them. Join me next time when we look at the snowy egret and we learn that they are actually pretty easy to differentiate from the great egret! See you all then!

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