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Sparrow Facial Feature Terminology

This post is geared towards specifing the different features among facial patterns in North American Sparrows in particular. These terms vary across and throughout, but here I will lay out what I have adopted for use based around extensive interactions with ornithologist and birders of all experience. I have personally found them to be a balance of both technical, and easy to understand. 1. Supercilium (Eyebrow) This group of feathers extends from the base of the bill above the lores (#3) all the way back to the nape (#8). Contrastingly light in some species while streaked or blended in others.  2. Supraloral   The beginning portion of the supercilium just above the lores (#3) in front of the eye. This is the area that is typically yellow in Savannah and White-throated Sparrows 3. Lores The group of feathers just in front of the eye. Examples of species with dark/shaded lores or a “loral line” would be Chipping, Olive, and Rufous-winged Sparrows. Sometimes this area is f
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House Finch Identification

This is a quick break down of the marks to look for that seperate male House Finches from the similar in appearance male Purple and Cassin's Finches. House Finches are common backyard visitors and abundant throughout most of their range so familiarizing yourself with its variations and key marks can help answer the age old question of; House, Purple, or Cassin's? I also advise looking at range maps to see which is likely in your area as well as when.  1. Bill Shape - The ridge of the upper mandible (culmen) is notably curved on House Finches, giving the bill a slightly curved top to it’s stubby appearance. On Purples and Cassin's this part of the bill is straight giving the bill a more uniform conical appearance.  2. Streaking/Color - The color of a male House Finch is extremely variable in both coverage and hue, although typically average a lighter pinker red than Purple. Some males show very little red limited to the head and the very upper breast, while some more he

Harris’s Sparrow

Breeding Adult Cheeks, supercilium, and nape light gray. Complete or mostly complete black crown. Black extends into the beginning portion of the malar as well as the lores and supraloral.  Non-breeding  Adult Black throat is a mark of an adult. Black crown is scalloped with white edging. Cheeks and nape brown. Malar, supraloral and lores mostly brown Immature  /  First Winter Average less black in the crown than non-breeding adults and a contrasting pale throat with small amounts of variable black flecking. Variable brown to the  bib and neck border. Otherwise similar to non-breeding adults.  Shape Profile: One of our largest Sparrows. Bulky chest with large squared head typical of the genus.  Medium long, slightly rounded tails. Head Profile: Large thick based bright orange bill. Large somewhat flat-topped squared head. Unique variable black “mask”  Breast / Belly / Flank Pattern: Splotchy black bib that extends down just to the middle of the breast. Flanks showing a mix of thick dar