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Eric,
Thanks very much for these tips, especially the notes on behavior - they are indeed worthwhile and an example of how VTBIRD subscribers can truly benefit from the experience of others.
Rick Enser, Braintree
 

________________________________
 From: Eric Hynes <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2013 1:48 PM
Subject: [VTBIRD] Photo illustrating Lincoln's Sparrow with ID tips
  

Hello Vermont Birders:

Since Lincoln's Sparrow has been a reoccurring theme on the listserv
lately, I thought some folks might be interested in an image I captured
this morning and a few ID tips.

There is a little brushy area off Dorset Street in South Burlington that I
have been meaning to check out. This morning I visited it briefly. It
turned out to not be a park unfortunately but still a birdie little patch
during my quick turnaround.

Shortly after getting out of the car, I had this Lincoln's Sparrow (LISP)
pop up.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/emhimages/9837806086/in/photostream/

My first impression when I get a LISP in my bins is of a clean, crisp,
somewhat delicate, gray-faced sparrow.

The bill is noticeably smaller than the bill of a Song Sparrow. Here is a
comparison image from this morning:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/emhimages/9839110684/in/photostream/

The finer streaking on the breast and flanks of a LISP is thin and
well-defined. In contrast, the streaking on a SOSP is usually blurry and
broad. This molting juvenile SOSP in the above linked image is particularly
messy in that regard.

The streaking on a LISP is also limited to the breast and flanks over a
warm buffy-brown background sharply contrasting with the clean white belly.
SOSPs don't show this bibbed look nearly so well-defined.

The face of a SOSP is busy with buff, dark brown and some white whereas a
LISP has a clean gray face for the most part with buff restricted to the
submoustachial area.

Behaviorally, LISP typically pop up with a subtly raised crest. It is
nothing like a Northern Cardinal or Tufted Titmouse but it does give the
LISP a look of being agitated. The raised crown feathers make for a steep
forehead look which is reminiscent of a White-crowned Sparrow.

Another behaviorally note, in my experience, LISP seem to regularly rise
to the top. If you are working a good sparrow patch and a bunch of sparrows
flush to a brush pile or shrub, LISP usually end up near the top.

I'm not sure what inspired this but if you are still reading, I hope you
found it worthwhile.

Best,

Eric Hynes
Hinesburg