Today (30 September 2016) a group of us encountered 12 Nelson’s Sparrows during a walk along the shoreline of Westmeath Provincial Park. We discovered a group of 8 birds and then a group of 4 some further 400 m (approx) further along (NE) the shoreline. Continue reading Nelson’s Sparrows at Westmeath Provincial Park
This morning (29 September 2016) I birded a promising new sparrow field. Sadly, this area is slated for development. There were many Savannah Sparrows present at this site and what became apparent after about an hour of birding was that there were two subspecies present. Continue reading A Tale of Two Savannah’s
Below is a photo of four immatures which are perhaps representative of birds hailing from the Hudson Bay region. Note here how on all of these birds the pale supercilium is not sharply constricted above the eye, with pale areas ‘invading’ the supra (above) loral (lores; area between bill and eye). Continue reading A note on Eastern (leucophrys) White-crowned Sparrows
Late in the summer while running along the Trans Canada Trail, I began to flush small sparrows from the side of the trail at this one spot near Iber Rd. @ the Trans Canada Trail. Always, the sparrows would ‘spray’ into the air and drop into a weedy field just S of the trail. Continue reading Goulbourn Sparrow Field
Golden Eagles have a proportionally small head and, long tail. These features, combined, produce a subtle, yet unique, ‘signature’ in the sky. Continue reading Golden Eagles at a Distance
Peak Blue-headed Vireo migration is just around the corner here in eastern Ontario. Typically this species pulses through in large numbers from mid-September through to early October, with birds known to linger in favoured migrant haunts well into October. Continue reading A note on Blue-headed Vireos
While birding in Prince Edward County and Presqu’ile with the Eastern Ontario Birding group, I heard of the passing of one of Ontario’s foremost birding giants, Alan Wormington. Continue reading Alan Wormington (1954 – 2016)
Photo: In autumn, some fresh juvenile Black-bellied Plovers (at right) can be quite gold-washed throughout. A daintier specimen adorning this bright, golden finery could perhaps cause some identification issues, perhaps at first glance resembling an American Golden-Plover (at left).
Leaving plumage details aside, structurally there are fundamental differences between the two species. With American Golden, note the dainty and delicate physique. Compared to Black-bellied, its bill is slimmer, its forehead rises more sharply, and its head has a higher ‘domed’ crown. It appears to have a more “dove-like” expression, as the shorebird field guides state. Its wings are long and typically extend well past the tail. With Black-bellied, note the heavier-set build. The bill is thick (thicker than American Golden), and the head carries more ‘weight,’ structurally. Note here how its primary tips jut ever so slightly past its tail tip, an appearance typical of the species.
With American Golden, the patterning to the head is high-contrast, with a dark cap, light supercilium, and a faint dark eyeline. Its underparts are typically quite dark throughout, with smudgy, dark horizontal barring to the chest and upper belly. With Black-bellied, the patterning to the head is lower-contrast. Its underparts are typically entirely whitish throughout, with the chest and upper abdomen finely streaked in brown.
Primary Field Marks
With American Golden, the rump is brown and the underwing is uniformly grayish. With Black-bellied, the rump is white, and the whitish underwing shows black to the axillaries, or, “armpits.”
Thank you to Nancy Barrett (photo of Black-bellied taken at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. September 2015) and Stephen Stephen (photo of American Golden, taken at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. September 2015) for the use of their superb captures. The use of this comparison photo greatly enhances the educational value of this note.
Happy Shorebirding 🙂
Over the past 10 days I have been having an absolute blast along Shirleys Bay Waterfront Trail, NCC Trail 10. From August 22 – August 30, I managed to tally a hair under 100 species, ending at 96. Just today, I tallied my record high warbler count along this trail: 18 species. Continue reading NCC Trail 10