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This is fun.

Several people suggested that the bird might be an Ammodramus spp.
Unfortunately the tail is not shown on the photographs.  The tail on the
bird I saw was long and rounded witch should rule out these species.  The
most frequent suggestion in Grasshopper Sparrow.  Below is my reply to a
similiar question by Bill Pranty.


<<Grasshopper sparrow came up as possibility when I was working this out
with the sparrow expert.  He said his first impression (before reading the
description) also was Grasshopper Sparrow.  Below is my response:


<<<In thinking about the Grasshopper Sparrow possibility, it occured to me
that the red patch behind the eye in the photo showing the mystery bird
from the left side should rule out Grasshopper Sparrow. I refer you to
Pautuxent's web site :  http://www.mbr.nbs.gov/infocenter/infocenter.htm so
we can be using the same image for comparison.  Under their entry for
Grasshopper Sparrow they show three images: two adults, and one juvenile.
Compare the area behind the eye (auriculars?) to the pictures I sent you.
I don't see how the pattern on my bird can be matched to either adult or
juvenile Grasshopper Sparrow, nor how it could be any sort of intermediate.
 Under their entry for Cassin's Sparrow, they show a left side view that
shows an auricular patch that is more in line with my bird.>>>


This comparison, to me, rules out Grasshopper.  The sparrow expert
concurred.  In addition, The length and shape of the tail are also
inconsistent with Grasshopper.  The yellowish color on the face appears to
be an artifact due to taking the picture in deep shade with a flash.  It
definitely was not apparent in real life.

The median stripe is real, but not without precedent for a juvenile
Cassin's.  I suspect that the bird is an HY bird undergoing post-juvenile
molt.  Back feathers are molted first, so an adult body with a juvenile
head is not unlikely.>>


I really appreciate all the input. Thanks everyone.

Have fun,

Tom Curtis
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