Savannah Sparrow Identification

by Larry on October 3, 2010

Savannah Sparrow photos by Larry Jordan

I had the chance to do a little birding before the Burrowing Owl Consortium meeting a few weeks ago and found several Savannah Sparrows at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma.  I got some good shots of this bird as it foraged in the open near a graveled walkway that meandered through the park.

The Savannah Sparrow is an abundant and wide spread grassland sparrow in North America.  It usually has a yellowish eyebrow stripe which is not always obvious.  Like the photo above, the yellowish eyebrow stripe sometimes appears beige.

Its throat, breast, and belly are whitish to pale beige, the breast generally streaked with brown, often with a small central spot, less obvious than that of the Song Sparrow.  Most also show a pale beige median stripe on the crown.

The Savannah Sparrow also sports a notched tail which separates it from the Song Sparrow and has pink legs.

To see some really cool bird photos from around the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn Fine October 4, 2010 at 3:18 am

Great photos and info on the Savannah Sparrow. Hope you are catching some good birdie migration out there!

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Klaus October 4, 2010 at 4:24 am

Good job, Larry!

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Klaus October 4, 2010 at 4:25 am

Good job on the Sparrows, there, Larry!
Klaus´s last post ..3 Australian Water Monitor

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Rick Wright October 4, 2010 at 6:28 am

Beautiful photos! It’s nice to see these pale grayish ones again after all these months with golden brooksi here in Vancouver.

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Pat ODonnell October 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

Nice images of Savannah Sparrow! I can just imagine their lazy sounding song floating over weedy fields and rolling grasslands.
Pat ODonnell´s last post ..Birding Costa Rica during the 2010 rainy season

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April October 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

Terrific photos! The Savannah Sparrow is one of my favorite birds. We have them here as well. They like nesting in the tall grasses that grow in the ditches and will immediately fly up when we walk by. Thank you for your very helpful post in identifying them, and also thank you for the help with my warbler.
April´s last post ..In the Birch Trees

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Mick October 4, 2010 at 11:08 am

Great photos and very interesting ID features for this bird.
Mick´s last post ..Black-necked Stork

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Bird Feeders October 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Great photographs, thanks a lot for sharing! Although I generally prefer illustrations for ID purposes, these photographs do an excellent job at highlighting the prominent features of this sparrow. The third photograph captures the crown stripe excellently.

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The Zen Birdfeeder October 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Savannah is a tough sparrow for me. Saw one in NJ and lucky the ranger helped me out.
The Zen Birdfeeder´s last post ..WBU-Saratoga Supports Work of North Country Wild Care

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Lana October 4, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for the tips! This will certainly help me!
Lana´s last post ..New Park Camp Salmen

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NatureFootstep October 6, 2010 at 8:09 am

I wish I kenw that much about birds, but I am still in the “learning basics” process. Ah, but that is fun too. And your little friend is gorgeous.
Glad you appreciated the cormorant photo in my entry. I actually waited for this to happen. And it came out nicely. Sometimes one is lucky. :)
NatureFootstep´s last post ..Migratory birds

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Larry October 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm

@Dawn thank you very much. At home we are getting warblers coming through, kinglets and flickers returning, geese flying overhead and huge coveys of quail. In town many migrants passing through

@Klaus thanks for stopping by with a comment!

@Rick thanks

@Pat we are lucky to have these beauties most of the year and you are very good in your description of their song. I love the trills

@April thank you. I’m glad to find others that take joy in sparrows

@Mick thanks

@Chantelle thank you very much. I like illustrations for ID in the field also but I think you can see much more sometimes from photos due to the ability to get many different angles than you find in most field guides

@Nancy I think sparrows can be tough to ID for many reasons, especially juveniles

@Lana you are very welcome

@NF we are all still in the learning process and I think that’s what makes birding fun. I also find waiting and watching birds while photographing has given me much more insight into bird behavior which, I think, is key to bird watching

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Kelly October 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

LOVED this post! Savannah Sparrows are among my favorite birds. They are beautiful and sweet and love finding them tucked away in the grasses. Your photos are wonderful…so crisp. How close were you?
Kelly´s last post ..A Female American Kestrel in the grasses and goldenrod

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Larry October 9, 2010 at 5:11 am

@Kelly thank you, they are beautiful to me too. The bird on the ground was probably 20 feet away but the one perched was at least twice that. Plus the perched sparrow was in the shadows and I had to use an ISO of 3200, hence the graininess of the photo.

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