Sunday, October 21, 2012

Le Conte's Sparrows!

From the path going to the back of the drumlin.

I was digiscoping Dark-eyed Juncos and other sparrows in the tangle of brush near the parking lot while waiting for Dottie Johnson to arrive. She was hoping to see her first Fox Sparrows of fall, which was virtually assured as their numbers have been steadily increasing at the conservancy over the past week or so. As for me, I was hoping to get nice pictures of any bird. I'm not particular when it comes to bird photography; the little brown jobs will do just fine. But a Le Conte's Sparrow wasn't what I was expecting to see this morning.

When Dottie arrived, we headed down the grassy path that bisects the prairie and goes to the north side of the drumlin. There's nice edge habitat in the back where I can usually find respectable numbers of Fox Sparrows this time of year. As we were walking past the two retention ponds, I made a comment that one day we were going to find either a Nelson's or Le Conte's there. And just like that, it happened. Dottie saw the bird fly a short distance in the grass and pointed out where it stopped. I got on it with my spotting scope and immediately knew it was an ammodramus sparrow species. But which! With a little coaxing in the form of a soft pish sound, the beautiful orange sparrow sidled up the perch into view. And then just moments later, it was joined by another. Two! Two Le Conte's Sparrows!

Orange! That's what you want to see.

Stripes on the nape.

Nice portrait!

Second of the two, but didn't get a clear shot.

Second bird with nice diagnostic view.

This is the first time I've observed Le Conte's Sparrow at the conservancy, making it the 224th bird species for my patch list.

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell


  1. What a beautiful sparrow. Congratulations!

  2. Beautiful bird in beautiful images.
    I love the way the colours of the bird blend with its environment in the background.

  3. Simply stunning! Breathtaking captures. Well done.

  4. Still a lifer for me, I should get over there to check 'em out.Awesome shots (of course). Your story would have been better if you said you called them out with your magic whistle....

  5. Hey Jason,

    But that whistle is for warblers, remember?

    I hope you get a chance to see them!

    All: Thanks for the feedback!

    Mike M.

  6. Pfffffff, it's a MAGIC whistle, the only limits are in your mind...

  7. Jason,

    Clearly, I no longer need the whistle.

    Mike "Maud'Dib" McDowell

  8. nice they're so hard to get good images of!! good going.
    they nest in sedge meadows here in the county