Hey guys, welcome back. Today we venture back to the sparrow family for a sparrow that is a bit tricky to ID, especially if you don’t see them that often; the clay-colored sparrow! Their normal range goes right down the center of the country, throughout the Great Plains, while breeding throughout southern Canada. They are actually one of the most numerous songbirds within their range, they do wander outside their range from time to time. In fact, the only one I’ve ever seen was in New York City, well outside their range. One showed up near me in Ohio and I went to find it, but was unable to. There’s always fall!
A typical gray and tan sparrow, clay-colored sparrows look similar to non-breeding chipping sparrows; their face has a very similar pattern to them. The nape of their neck is a light gray, which is their most distinguishing field mark. They also look similar to the Brewer’s sparrow, a western sparrow species, as well.
Males typically return to the same breeding spot every year, but the female often strays and finds another spot. They also tend to forage away from their breeding territory unlike most birds. The one I saw in Central Park was a classic case of right place right time. I was on the hunt for my first Cape May warbler and I happened to run into some birders I knew that had just spotted a clay-colored! After searching with them to re-find the bird, we finally got it! I also got the Cape May warbler. In fact, it’s our next bird! Come back next time to learn more. See you then!
cape may warbler