Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Rufous-crowned Sparrow. April 6, 2014. Escondido, California. Greg Gillson.
I'm not very familiar with this bird of the coastal sage scrub--a type of lower elevation "soft" chaparral. I actually have only 9 records of this species written down, 7 of them from when I lived in Ventura County from 1979-1984, only two recently. The two recent sightings were along dirt roads around lakes on steep rocky hillsides. I'm not sure the lakes are typical habitat for this sparrow. Rather the lakes were the reason I was birding in that locale and the drier habitat was along its edge.

It's an interestingly colored sparrow, gray above and below. It has a rufous crown, and brown back stripes, and wing and tail feathers.

I believe the bush is called Toyon, and it has clusters of small red berries in the fall.