Lincoln’s Sparrow

Hey guys, welcome back. Today we have another stripey little sparrow, the Lincoln’s sparrow. This streaky sparrow has thin streaking on its face, throat, and breast but little to none on its belly. When compared to the song sparrow, I think of the streaks like this; the song sparrow’s streaks are made with a crayon, while the Lincoln’s are made with a sharp colored pencil. The thinner streaks is one way to tell them from the more abundant song sparrow. Another is the buffy coloration across the breast and on the face, particularly the “mustache” areas.

Common throughout the country, the Lincoln’s sparrow is typically secretive, but not so much so that you have to spend 4 hours waiting for it to come out (looking at you LeConte’s sparrow.) They have a somewhat unsparrow-like call, sounding a bit more like a house wren. Lincoln’s sparrows also show less geographic differences than other sparrows, both in song and plumage/coloration.

My first Lincoln’s sparrow was one that showed up in Central Park’s Pool, a small pond at about West 103rd St. This one wasn’t secretive at all, and I remember seeing the differences in its plumage compared to the song sparrow. I remember thinking “oh when you know what you’re looking for, they really aren’t all that similar.” Sparrows are often seen as difficult birds to ID. But I see them as a challenge of subtlety. Once you learn those subtle differences you begin to see just how unique each sparrow species is. They weren’t very common in NYC, but I would see a few in Missouri, and even more here in Ohio in the years since. Next up, a runner-up for largest gull species in the world. See you then!

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