Song Sparrow project 5


A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to draw M.m.heermanni. I drew quickly, and was it was verity difficult. The result, seen at the bottom of this comparison image shows how a little bit of time, some failures and practice has improved my understanding of the bird’s anatomy and plumage. I think it just goes to show that study and reflection are good with a project like this… I wonder what more study would produce…


Song Sparrow project 4


This is a ONLY proof-of-concept of the generalized Song Sparrow template. My first subject is M.m.heermanni, otherwise known as the “California Song Sparrow”. It is probably the most widespread population, yet coastal birders in Northern California need to drive a little to see them. They are marked with more pale gray and medium rufous contrast than M.m.gouldii or the various salt marsh populations. I quickly added color to a poor quality laser print out of the pencil template. Some ambiguity around the scapulars and median coverts will require some work, maybe some adjustment on the template… The template (and the coloration) was modeled after an individual photographed during our annual Gray Lodge tour. It remains to be seen if I can translate other populations on this architecture.

Song Sparrow project 1


I’ve been considering a series of illustrations for some time—The Song Sparrows of California. According to Don Roberson, there are 9 breeding subspecies in California, and 7 of those breed in the northern portion of the state. There are still more to be found if you consider winter visitants. In all, there are 52 subspecies in North America! The first step, I believe, is to create a generic SongSparrow template on which will the various regionally specific plumage details will be placed. This maybe too ambitious (and too dangerous) for me to take on, but I love our SOSPs and I love trying to identify them in the field, so I want to try. The three salt marsh populations in the SF Bay are badly in need of illustrations, as well as the others not shown in field guides. First on the block will be M.m.heermanni, the “California Song Sparrow”. The template will need to be improved, but this present version shows feather groups and the general composition of the familiar field guide profile.