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Sparrow and song observations

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  • Paul S. Highland
    ... Indeed they do. ... There are several races of this species with subtle differences in bill color and head stripe pattern. ... Yes, coastal birds generally
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2005
      Kris M. wrote:
      > Recently, I read an article about local/regional variances in bird songs, and
      > very much like people, the same goes for birds.

      Indeed they do.

      > Well, this weekend I got to observe that first hand.
      > I got to sneak away to Morro Bay for a couple days of R&R. While parked below
      > the rock enjoying a picnic lunch and watching the holiday beach goers, up popped
      > a White-crowned Sparrow. He was totally unconcerned with all the coming and
      > going of visitors or us picnicers for that matter.
      > First, his bill was yellow, not orange or flesh colored, pure yellow.

      There are several races of this species with subtle differences in bill color and head stripe

      > He foraged right out in the open moving very much like a towhee. But what got me was
      > when he hopped up on a log and burst forth into song. You could still tell that it
      > was a White-crown, but so different than the songs I hear during their winter
      > visits to my yard. It was much shorter, seemed rushed, and lacked the rich tone
      > of my winter guests.
      > I'm pretty sure the sub-species that lives in Morro Bay is resident and I've
      > heard them singing many times from the dunes beyond the beach.

      Yes, coastal birds generally reside there year-round.

      In fall and winter, many white-crowned (and golden-crowned) sparrows migrate to central and southern
      California. The song of these white-crowns are exactly the same as the ones that breed in parts of
      Alaska. But a resident bird in the hills east of Berkeley sounded entirely different.

      Other birds with regional "dialects" are rufous-sided towhees and yellow warblers. The towhees in
      Arizona sound a lot like the ones in California, except that they add two or three chips before the
      trill. And none of them in the West sing "drink your tea" as many do in the East.

      In the East, yellow warblers' songs usually have an upward inflection at the end, whereas in
      California the inflection is downward.

      A small number of white-throated sparrows winter in California. The only two I've seen so far are
      one in Atascadero in December 1970 and another in Santa Rosa in November 1989.

      === Paul H! in AtasCal
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