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Birding Photo Quiz: June 2017

Well, it’s an “LBJ,” or “little brown job.”

In an article in the June 2017 Birding, winging its way to ABA members right now, Priscilla Lai and colleagues analyze this mystery bird—and others like it. Lai and coauthors provide facts and data in their article, but they also acknowledge that there’s still a fair bit to learn about birds like the one depicted here. We’ll have more to say about that in a later forum. In the meantime: Any thoughts about this month’s Birding photo quiz?

In an article in the June 2017 Birding, Priscilla Lai and colleagues analyze our mystery bird–and a suite of others that look just like it!

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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives of the ABA. He is the author of more than 100 magazine and journal articles, and has written four recent books, including an ABA title, the ABA Guide to Birds of Colorado. Floyd is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and state ornithological society meetings, and he has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Mainly, he listens to birds at night.
Ted Floyd

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  • Adam Roesch

    Clearly a juvenile sparrow of genus Melospiza. I typically leave them unidentified unless they’re with parents (which is probably weak). I’ll have to read the article.

    • Ted Floyd

      Just to put you on the spot (it’s okay–we’re all friends), why is this “clearly” a juvenile Melospiza? Why not a Vesper Sparrow or Fox Sparrow or something?

      • Adam Roesch

        To be honest… Because I never see juvenile vespers or foxes where I live and bird. Maybe bill’s too small for Fox and I’d assume juvenile Vespers (or Savannahs) wouldn’t be so reddish. I’m gonna go look at my field guides now…

      • Adam Roesch

        Well, Fox, Vesper, and Savannah Sparrows all have their juveniles ignored by the big field guides while Melospizas are all represented to some degree. Similarly, I’ve typed out sections of the Melospiza juvenile descriptions from my copy of Byers, Curson, and Olsson’s “Sparrows and Buntings” to help with ID on my state’s main birding group on facebook. And I often refer to’s banding photos of juvenile Melospizas.

        Now that I’ve looked into it further: Juvenile FOSP, VESP, and SAVS all look much more like adults of their species, with the thick bicolored bill* on the prior and as much red as the local subspecies shows, while the latter two have the bright white breast with some dark markings the adults have.

        *May not apply to some of the more extreme subspecies. I’m thinking mostly about Thick-billed Foxes, maybe some Sooties.

  • Rick Whitman

    It’s a juvenile Song Sparrow. Sorry, I just “know” that; I’ve seen lots of them. There are many species that I wouldn’t know.

    • Adam Roesch

      I’m pretty sure you’re right, but have you not come across any juvi Swamp Sparrows? In field conditions, they’re so close.

      • Rick Whitman

        There are no olive tones on the face. The ear coverts are very light color. The bill is short relative to the broad base and might be diagnostic ?

  • Pingback: Birding Online: June 2017 « ABA Publications()

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