[CT Birds] New Haven Lighthouse Park VESPER SPARROW

Steve Mayo and Rebecca Horowitz rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Tue Sep 3 16:47:08 EDT 2013

Well, not so 100% sure...

Thanks to all who posted to suggest Lark Sparrow.  I had first ruled out Juv. Lark Sparrow based on this bird's unstreaked belly and relatively dull auricular/malar pattern.  

I have since looked at a lot of images of drab juvenile Lark Sparrows, enough to cast some doubt on my very brief, somewhat distant observations.  

I guess there will always be Emberizidae, that get away...

Steve Mayo

 From: Steve Mayo and Rebecca Horowitz <rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net>
To: CT Birds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> 
Sent: Sunday, September 1, 2013 5:08 PM
Subject: New Haven  Lighthouse Park VESPER SPARROW

I'm still in shock over this remarkably early date, but I'm sure I had a Vesper Sparrow at Lighthouse today.   

I noted a new, 15-foot diameter dirt pile, covered with fox tail and smart weed, on the west side of the parking area.  I was thinking that will be a great little migrant trap if it is left there all season.  

A few minutes later I saw a good-size LBJ with prominent white outer retrices fly across the entire width of the Park and land at the base of this dirt pile.  It had a a distinctive facial pattern (I saw a dark malar stripe and other dark facial features but didn't make out any other details.  It was pale brown/gray with a "scaly" ("line-y") back and diffuse streaking in the pale chest.  It quickly disappeared but a half-hour later (about 0830) I saw it fly into the trees just to the west of the pavillion.  I know this facial/body description doesn't rule out other sparrows, but during all three brief views (flight, hopping about, flight) the white outer tail feathers were clearly seen.

Two other out-of season birds:  HY male Cooper's Hawk and Merlin.  

Not much else (2 Purple Martins, 20-40 C Swift, 5 E Kingbird, 5 BG Gnatcatcher, mixed flock of Gr and Lesser Yellowlegs).  

Steve Mayo

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