Monday, May 4, 2009

Mystery bird of the week

Can any of you avian experts out there tell me what species of bird this is? It visited my back yard in Evanston, Illinois, the other day. It doesn't seem to be in any of my bird books. It is about the size and shape of an English sparrow, with striped black-and-white head, slate-gray breast and belly, dark brown barred wings and back, lighter brown hindquarters.


  1. Looks like a white-crowned sparrow to me.

  2. So it is! Thanks very much, Anon.

    Here's what the Cornell bird site has to say about it:

    "White-crowned Sparrows appear each winter over much of North America to grace our gardens and favorite trails (they live in parts of the West year-round). The smart black-and-white head, pale beak, and crisp gray breast combine for a dashing look – and make it one of the surest sparrow identifications in North America. Watch for flocks of these sparrows scurrying through brushy borders and overgrown fields, or coax them into the open with backyard feeders. As spring approaches, listen out for this bird’s thin, sweet whistle."

  3. Vicki - Hopeful Rail UserMay 4, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    Henry, lucky you. They spend the winter here in Southern California. They all left last month and won't be back until October. I consider their departure to be the beginning of spring.

  4. Henry, we met in LaPlata last Novemer when I was there with Carl Morrison. He said you had a bird to ID, but I see Anon and Vicki were right on the case.

    Carl also mentioned that you now use an iPod Touch. I also have one and as a birthday present, my daughter got me the App - iBird Pro. If you have not looked into it, I sugggest you do. I am a very amature bird watcher and I have found it to be the best field guide I have every used. (I have no stake in iBird). I have been able to use it's search feature to ID a number of birds this spring that I would not have been able to do by just using a book. It does cost a little over $20.00 but I covers all or most of the birds in the US. AS you travel, you and lock in the state you are in and it will only show you the birds that are in that state. For Illinois it cuts the number from 914 to 286. You can then further refine your search with in that state.

    Take care and keep birding -

    Bob Williams
    Huntley, IL

  5. Hi, Bob! I remember our meeting in LaPlata. Wish I were there again.

    I do have iBird, but the "backyard" version that costs $2.99. It's very useful. I'm thinking about springing for the big Pro app, since I'll be in Michigan as well as Illinois. Thanks for mentioning it.