Thursday, May 30, 2013

White-throated Sparrow - White and Tan Morphs: May Backyard Sparrow, Regina, SK (7)

White-throated Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
White morph White-throated Sparrow 
in the apple tree © SB
When I saw the first White-throated Sparrow this year in my Regina, Saskatchewan, backyard, I was puzzled by its markings.

The White-throated Sparrows I'd seen (or noticed, anyway) last year were crisply marked — white head stripes, white throat, yellow lores (spots between the eye and bill).

Even their bright throats were clearly outlined, like the bird at right, one of the later White-throated Sparrows to arrive in my yard.

This year's first arrivals, however, were drab and very generically little-brown-bird.

But when I took shots for identification and displayed them full-screen on my 24-inch monitor — and significantly lightened the exposure, shadows, etc. — I realized these, too, where White-throated Sparrows.

There are a couple of options for the IDs of these browner bird, and perhaps a reader can help clarify this?
  1. I've seen several similar White-throated Sparrows on photo websites posted as immature birds, but my Stokes shows the immatures as clearly white-marked... 
  2. There are also Tan-morphs of White-throated Sparrows, which my Stokes shows as looking fairly close to the brown birds in my photos, so perhaps that's what these are? And if so, I guess the bright white guys would be white-morphs... 
In any case, that's what I'm leaning to here: #2. Tan morphs. Below. 

And so, this year, both the White and Tan morphs of White-throated Sparrows showed up in my yard. 

Which doesn't seem all that unusual, as apparently mated pairs "almost always include one of each morph." (Sibley guides info on White-Throated Sparrows.)  And these birds pictured above and below were both in the same apple tree... 

White-throated Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
Tan morph White-throated Sparrow
in the same apple tree. 
© SB
White-throated Sparrow. Photo © Shelley Banks; all rights reserved.
Tan morph White-throated Sparrow on the ground. (Even more difficult to see its murky markings) © SB

May Migrating Native Sparrows: (yes, there are likely more — these are the ones in my Regina, Saskatchewan backyard. And yes, there is also the ever-present House Sparrow, but it's neither native nor migrating...)
  1. Chipping Sparrow
  2. American Tree Sparrow
  3. Harris's Sparrow 
  4. Clay-Coloured Sparrow
  5. Lincoln's Sparrow
  6. White-crowned Sparrows
  7. White-throated Sparrows (White and Tan Morphs) 

What are these?  White-throated Sparrows, White morph Tan morph.
Location: Backyard, Regina, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: May 11, 2013. 

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