Clay-colored Sparrow, Spizella pallida, Irish Hill Rd, Newfield Township, Tompkins Co., NY, 20 May 2001.
These pictures were taken by my son Jay and me with an Olympus D-450 digital camera through my Swarovski HD-80 spotting scope on 20 May 2001.
All photos © Kevin J. McGowan
Although they breed in parts of New York state, Clay-colored Sparrow is very uncommon in the Finger Lakes region. Discovered by Matt Sarver earlier in the morning, Jay and I found this attractive little sparrow late in the evening. It was no longer singing, but we were lucky enough to find it skulking in shrubs near the road. Although I have seen the species before, I was surprised at how attractive it was with the buffy face standing out sharply from the gray nape.
I've never really looked at this species from this angle before. In the photo the head looks surprisingly like that of a White-crowned Sparrow, but this diminutive sparrow would be difficult to confuse with a big, hulking White-crown.
Face-on, it showed off the white central crown stripe effectively.
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