Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sprague's Pipit in Douglas County!!!

September 21, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I enjoyed a birdy day at Hidden Mesa Open Space (see his report below).

After running into a flock of 9 Clay-colored Sparrows at the first bushes south of the parking area, Bryan and I encountered a strange pipit. We did everything we could to turn it into an American Pipit. However, it was not; it was a Sprague's Pipit!

The big black eye with white eye ring stood out on the pale face. We noted the brownish cheek with its darker outline. Its back was what we noticed first. The white and brown streaks giving it the "scaly look".

The head was streaked dark and light brown. The bill was pale with the top of the upper mandible blackish. The thin pointed bill was not that like a blunt bill of a Vesper Sparrow.

The folded primaries were blackish with pale cream edges. The one time it flew, it showed much white on the outer tail feathers. The bird appeared reluctant to fly in the cold morning air. We watched it from not too close and it walked around the short grass field. Only stopping when there was a clump of taller grasses.

It had bold whitish wingbars. Its breast was streaked (easy to see, but whether more strong than an adult, we did not determine). Its flanks however were not streaked as expected on an American Pipit. The legs were pale. The extreme scaly back and bold wingbars indicated to us a juvenile Sprague's Pipit.

No comments: