Song Sparrow project 10

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The Song Sparrow Project continues with a peek at the very distinctive Suisun Song Sparrow (M.m.maxillaris). More details later, the drawing is in the early stages.

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Song Sparrow project 9

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The Song Sparrow Project continues… The contrasty and richly chestnut-colored “Marin Song Sparrow” or M.m.gouldii is actually common in several counties. It is widely distributed along the Coastal and Diablo ranges in the San Francisco Bay Area. In my experience it avoids the tidal marsh inhabited by other populations, content in the nearby creeks and hillsides away from the bay. In a few locations, like San Francisquito Creek in Santa Clara county, you can find this population, AND the threatened salt marsh obligate “Alameda” Song Sparrow during a 20 minute walk.

Song Sparrow project 8

The Song Sparrow Project: I’m refining color on the two illustrations and experimenting with layouts. This is kind of what I have in mind for the final product. So much still to do. Six more breeding populations, and then a few migrants. It’s going to take a while…

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Song Sparrow project 7

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Just for comparison: Last week’s M.m.heermanni compared with this week’s M.m.pusillula. If you were guided by an awareness of each one’s range, and a drawing like this, do you think you could tell them apart? That is the goal of my Song Sparrow Project. I hope to continue with these drawings and accompany them with maps and descriptions. I also invite those familiar with these populations to provide constructive criticism and perhaps additional reference shots.

Song Sparrow project 6

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The Song Sparrow Project continues. M.m.pusillula, or the “Alameda” Song Sparrow occupies the a very narrow salt marsh strip in the South Bay—no more than a few yards from the tidal pickle weed. It is limited in its range, and we are lucky to see this threatened population any day we visit the Palo Alto Baylands, or Hayward Shoreline. If you are wondering why this population is “of concern” consider how a full 95% of this habitat has been developed in the last 100 years! When searching for the subspecies, look for the olive nape and base color of the back, the buttery malar and the dark blackish brown streaks on a pale yellow breast.

Song Sparrow project 6

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I continued work on the Song Sparrow Project last night. This is a detail of the second subspecies, the “Alameda” Song Sparrow, (M.m.pusillula). Good lighting in the field reveals a distinct olive tone to the back and nape, as well as a very pale yellow breast and belly. I’ll post the completed bird in the next day or so. I noticed also that the malar is creamy yellow, not white like M.m.heermanni.