• Gambel's White-crowned Sparrow

    Common NameGambel's White-crowned Sparrow
    Scientific NameZonotrichia leucophrys gambelii
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation03/17/2017
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed1+
    Reporting Observer's NameSpencer Hardy
    Mailing Address133 Tucker Hill Rd
    Norwich, VT 05055
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed03/19/2017
    Latitude of Observation43.966689
    Longitude of Observation-73.1465435
    Place NameThree Mile Bridge Rd
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day08:45 AM
    Length of Time Observed5+ mins
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)15
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)75
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Bright sun and fresh snow which made phone-scoping difficult. Most of the observation was in great lighting, with the sun over my shoulder. I took dozens of photos, but the were all either blurry or the head was not visible.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Minox 8x42 binoculars, Swavorski 25x - 50x scope

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    I have seen many WCSP, in both Vermont and California, though never positively identified a Gambel's anywhere

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Overgrown weedy field that has been great for sparrows since fall. Heavy snow pushed many birds to the roadside, at least 5 WCSP present during this observation

    Behaviors Observed

    Feeding along the road with other sparrows. The photos were taken when it was in a driveway, after being flushed by a truck. Its spent considerable time in a large maple, which seemed strange for WCSP, before dropping down to a bare patch of dirt

    Description of Vocalizations

    Not heard, probably silent?

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    It unclear exactly how many individuals this observation refers to, as there were several WCSP in the vicinity, and the two most conclusive views came >30mins and 200 meters apart. At one point, two immature WCSP were right next to each other, which provided a great comparison, and the differences were quite noticeable. The longest views, and photos, came when the bird was alone.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Similar to other WCSP


    Generally similar to other immature WCSP, with two brown crown stripes on a paler head. The big differences were the pale lores, less distinct eye stripe behind the eye, and larger gray nape

    Feet & Bill

    Bill was a bight shade of orange, noticeable different from the orangey/pink bill of other WCSPs

    Upper Back

    Similar to other WCSPs

    Lower Back & Rump

    Similar to other WCSPs


    Similar to other WCSPs

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    Similar to other WCSPs


    Similar to other WCSPs, though I repeatedly noticed a flicking of the tail that I had not seen in others. Almost a robin like, lateral flick as it fed

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Eastern White-crowned Sparrow (Z. l. leucophrys) eliminated in direct comparison by the pale lores and orange bill

    Other Notes & Comments


    Note added March 22: It appears this bird was unknowingly re-found two days later, and properly photographed! Now I can sleep at night knowing that it wasn’t just wishful thinking...
    http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S35330810, I suggested to Ian that he have the observer submit another RSD, but in case she doesn’t, it would be great if this checklist and photo could be filed with mine.

    This report was written from notes taken:Written from Memory

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