Sparrows are one of the most common birds, their range vast; their appearance unremarkable: plain, drab, grayish-brown. I'd long given up identifying the myriad species. But in my new home, with my feeder just ten feet away, I've had the opportunity to positively ID a few visitors.
A few weeks ago, white-crowned sparrows began appearing. From a distance, they look like most passeriformes, but up close, the marking on their heads is striking. Running down the middle of their crown is a perfectly formed white stripe framed by bold black stripes, then white again, and finally, if you look closely, faint black streaks running from the eyes to the back of the head. This striping is complimented by a stout yellow beak and tiny bead-like eyes.
They mostly feed on the ground under the cover of bushes and scrubs, using a two-footed scratch to uncover seeds. While feeding on my deck, I've noticed they will tolerate sharing my offerings with the spotted towhee, but not purple finches.
Although my camera is ready and waiting on the windowsill for that perfect moment, it hasn't happened yet. So, I went to google images for this little guy's photo.