Friday, October 12, 2012

Sparrow Identification by Shape

As with almost any bird, shape is an important aspect of sparrow identification.  While you don't have to completely rely on it for most sparrows, it will help you become quicker with their identifications.  This graphic is a basic guideline, but in some cases, sparrows in the same genus have markedly different shapes.  I will talk about some of these differences in later posts.

Sparrow Shapes-click on the image to see it larger.
Look closely at tail and wing length, bill shape, head shape and size, and overall bulkiness.  With a little
practice these sparrows will start to look much different.

Here is a list of what species are in what genus.  Pipilo and Rhynchophanes are not included in the graphic but they will be included in later posts.

Pipilo:  Green-tailed, Spotted, and Eastern Towhee
Aimophila:  Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Melozone:  Canyon, California, and Abert's Towhee
Peucaea:  Rufous-winged, Botteri's, Cassin's, and Bachman's Sparrow
Spizella:  American Tree, Clay-colored, Chipping, Brewer's, Field, and Black-chinned Sparrow
Pooecetes:  Vesper Sparrow
Chondestes:  Lark Sparrow
Amphispiza:  Five-striped, Black-throated, and Sage Sparrow
Calamospiza:  Lark Bunting
Passerculus:  Savannah Sparrow
Ammodramus:  Grasshopper, Baird's, Henslow's, Le Conte's, Nelson's, Saltmarsh, and Seaside Sparrow
Passerella:  Fox Sparrow
Melospiza:  Song, Lincoln's, Swamp
Zonotrichia:  White-throated, Harris's, White-crowned, and Golden-crowned Sparrow
Junco:  Dark-eyed and Yellow-eyed Junco

Calcarius:  Lapland, Chestnut-collared, and Smith's Longspur
Rhynchophanes:  McCown's Longspur
Plectrophenax:  Snow and McKay's Bunting

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