Winter Sparrows at Little Piney
The winter sparrows are back at Little Piney. Some of them are plentiful and easy to spot, while others are shy and more elusive. Here are ten sparrows that have found their way to Little Piney and posed for the camera. I’m still on the lookout for the other eight commonly found in Bastrop County.
The Fox Sparrow is a shy one. Saturday, I was thrilled to see my first Fox Sparrow perched low in a small tree by the creek bank. The Fox Sparrow is distinguished by bold, reddish, broken stripes on an snow-white breast with more of the same red on his gray head and back.
Song Sparrows are predictable in the rushes and low bushes by the creek. Their squeaky “peep” call alerts me know that they are back for the winter. The thick, dark malar stripes (the triangles on either side of the white throat) are the most distinguishing mark.
The Lincoln’s Sparrow is similar to the Song Sparrow but has a more delicate malar stripe, and a buffy color behind finer breast streaks.
The Vesper also has a striped breast, but is generally paler in color. Look for the gray cheek patch to identify the Vesper Sparrow.
The Savannah Sparrow has a wide creamy eyebrow with a yellow patch and long pink toes.
I hear the sweet whistle of the White-throated Sparrow dailly. Note the white throat and white eyebrow with yellow spots.
White-crowned Sparrows are less frequent visitors. They have a smaller white patch on the throat than the White-throated Sparrow.
Harris’s Sparrows are large sparrows. They have distinctive, variable, black markings on their chins and breast that make me think of beards.
You know it’s a Chipping Sparrow when the dark eye line extends on both sides of the eye. This is our most common sparrow at Little Piney.
A plain, wide-eyed looking bird, Field Sparrows have a white eye ring and pink bill.
Learn More About the Sparrows of Central Texas
Sparrows are not the easiest birds to learn to identify. Most of there brown!
Here are some good resources if you would like to know more about local sparrows:
- A guidebook available on Amazon: Sparrows of the United States and Canada by David Beadle
- A photo gallery by local sparrow expert “Dr. Birdie” Sparrowman’s “Sparrows of Central Texas”
- A guide to identifying four common sparrows: Birdzilla.com. Frequent Four