[Tweeters] Boeing Ponds Vesper Sparrow

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Thu May 2 14:15:23 PDT 2019

Hey Tweets!

At the risk of exposing how bad I am at birding, I thought I'd report what I believe was a Vesper Sparrow at Boeing Ponds today. I was walking the road that borders the east side of the ponds at 11:30 or so today, and there was a nice mix of sparrows along the east sidewalk - the one bordering the large field to the east. White-crowned, Lincoln, and Savannah were all there and looking crisp. I had this sparrow pop up from a few feet away, and it perched on a blackberry branch right next to a Savannah, giving nice comparisons. Larger with a pink bill, and the white/gray distinct patterning that seems familiar to me from other times I've seen Vespers - all pretty muted colors, but distinct facial patterning with absolutely no yellow in it. Really similar overall to the Savannah, but easy to see with them side by side that they were different birds.

Questions that I was asked as I ran through the sighting with other birders:

Was there a bright... luminously bright impossible to miss eye ring?
When the bird flew away, were you similarly blinded by the white retrices?
And... something else about rufous patches on the … shoulders?

None of these were looked for - they just aren't birds I've seen often enough to have a broader list of instant ID checks. The song has usually been the first ID for me, but this was a silent bird.

Anyone else run into these situations as you've been working to learn birds better? You get a look at a bird, and someone asks you afterwards "Was it wearing light pink galoshes?" Not like... that particular question, but something that sounds similar in that... you just had no clue to look for it? More realistically, maybe they'd ask about the tertial feathers - I often simply black out when my brain puts in the effort to remember for the 50th time which ones are the tertials. Just me? Thought so.

Hope someone is able to recover the bird - I tried for about 15 minutes, but it had flown off to skulk elsewhere. If you get a picture of those retrices - I'd love another look.

Happy birding!

Tim Brennan
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