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      Whatbird Forums Rules   01/08/17

      'Help Me Identify a Bird' rules: When posting a new thread, please: 1. Read the FAQ and forum rules before posting 2. Include the location in your Post when seeking ID 3. Include the date of the sighting 4. Provide a photo or detailed description of the bird Forum rules: By posting in the WhatBird forums you agree to the following board rules: 1. You will be tolerant and respectful of your fellow members 2. You will not spam 3. You will not post sexually explicit, vulgar or racist material 4. You will not advertise or sell products 5. You will not discuss illegal activities 6. You will keep topics of religion and politics to a bare minimum 7. You will not take advantage of chat to break any of the above rules. 8. Members will not discuss homosexuality nor make any comments about others' sexuality. Breaking any of these rules may result in a suspension or a permanent ban from the forums!! Furthermore, anyone who causes continuous dissent and disarray in the forums will be banned as seen fit by the forum moderators under the pretense of "trolling." Gallery photos: Regarding photos in the Whatbird gallery, please keep in mind that the copyright belongs to the person who took the photo. So please do not use any of the Gallery photos without requesting permission from the photographer. Forum Photos: If you use photos other than your own, please place a link to the referenced photo and do not post other photographer's work directly.
    • Aveschapines

      Found a baby bird or a sick or injured bird?   07/11/17

      Here is a short article with advice for what to do if you find a baby bird or one that appears to be sick or injured. Bird rescue article Please feel free to post here if you have questions or need more help.
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jeffroscoe

Sagebrush Sparrow???

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Coachella Valley Preserve, Riverside County, CA, January 10.  Thanks.

There are a few more pics if you follow the links.  Can't be certain they are all of the same individual, but all at the same location and around the same time. 

40272182941_ea8c916c97_c.jpguntitled-1098.jpg by jeffroscoe, on Flickr

39374895685_5170f5ee1a_c.jpguntitled-1208.jpg by jeffroscoe, on Flickr

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My best guess is that these are inland Bell's Sparrows. Sibley mentions that they're much paler than the coastal ones, but he doesn't illustrate them. Looking at shots on iNat.org (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/474849-Artemisiospiza-belli-canescens/browse_photos) the weak streaking on the back and well-defined malar seem to fit better than Sagebrush.

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Older guides list Bell's and Sagebrush as subspecies of Sage Sparrow, but that splits several years old. Sagebrush Sparrows do winter in southern California in small numbers, although that's probably obscured by the ID difficulties.

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Unfortunately, it seems that many of these :"Sage" sparrows cannot be identified in the field.  There basically is a continuum in appearance with a disturbing amount of overlap.  Most people refer to the back pattern and maybe secondarily the malar.  If the bird has really obvious dark, well-defined streaks on the back it is pretty far along the spectrum, and would most likely be a Sagebrush.  If there is essentially no back streaking or extremely weak ill-defined streaks, it is probably a Bell's.  If somewhere in the middle...

I'd say this bird is definitely trending towards canescans Bell's, and given location, that would likely be the more common species.  Is it possible it could be Sagebrush?  Who knows, perhaps, but you'd need it in hand to be sure.  I certainly wouldn't call it a Sagebrush based on the photos.

Here's a nice reference article: http://www.surfbirds.com/Features/Bells_Sparrow/identification.html

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