Song Sparrow project 12

M.m.samuelis2flat

This is M.m.samuels, or “Samuels” Song Sparrow. It is resident to a narrow tidal marsh habitat in San Pablo Bay, the northern most arm of the San Francisco Bay. It is one of three subspecies inhabiting the salt marsh. Most likely to be confused with the “Alameda” Song Sparrow of the south SF Bay, but they are never found together. The “Alameda” Song Sparrow shows subtle yellow wash on the belly and olive tones to the nape and back. By contrast, “Samuels” is marginally tanner and does not have a buffy malar. Between these two populations resides the “Suisun” Song Sparrow which is visually quite different. I’ve completed illustrations for all three, but plan on revisiting them to improve the drawings.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Song Sparrow project 12

  1. Beautiful work, Mathew,
    Fun to see some birds from my “neck of the woods”. But you know what Gilbert and Sullivan say in HMS pinafore about Never. “Never?! Well, hardly ever!” Are they really never seen together?

    • Ann, you’re right, “never” is a strong word. Let’s say instead, that as far as I’ve been able to determine, the two populations “have not” been found together, and are unlikely to do so. The reason behind this are that they are each uniquely adapted for existence in their particular micro habitats (very narrow tidal salt marsh zones) and remain their year round—resident and non migratory. The exact nature of their marsh-adaptedness is subtle, but quite visible in the population that falls between these two. M.m.maxillaris from Suisun Bay has an enormous bill, adapted for the hard tule seeds they feed on. San Paplo Bay and the South Bay each have their specific vegetation and food sources, so movement from one zone to another would impact each population’s ability to find food.

    • Thanks, Jamie! Part of the reason I started this project was because it was difficult to find photographic reference, especially of the three salt marsh populations in the SF Bay. I’ve scoured the web for properly labeled images, and done some detective work on eBird, matching up known ranges of subspecies with appropriate locations. So, yes. I do use photos for reference, but they rarely match up with the composition I’ve adopted. I wanted the portraits to be consistent so they could be compared easily, but birds just don’t pose they way I’d like. My favorite photos come from members of my class, who enjoy the challenge of helping me document these subspecies. I hope that answers your question. Thanks again for your support!

      • Ann, I teach the Master Birding class at Palo Alto Adult School—Monday night classes, and Saturday trips. I’ve instructed there for 15 years, beginning with an introductory-level class, quickly moving up to intermediate, advanced, and now its present form. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’m also a graphic designer during the week.

  2. Ann, I teach the Master Birding class at Palo Alto Adult School—Monday night classes, and Saturday trips. I’ve instructed there for 15 years, beginning with an introductory-level class, quickly moving up to intermediate, advanced, and now its present form. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’m also a graphic designer during the week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s