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We've got a brown sparrow-like bird in what looks like marsh vegetation. The apparent field marks are few, but it does have a pale superciliary; a darker, brown, eyeline; unmarked chest and belly; and a bicoloed bill (blackish and yellowish). While I could run through the various plain-breasted New World sparrows looking for a match to our field marks, the truth is that the bill color and pattern rule out most of those options and the dark legs (definitely not pink, as are those of most sparrows) eliminate all the others. Oh, did I mention that the legs were dark? Also, looking between the legs, we can see that the undertail coverts have large, dark centers – another feature inconsistent with the appearance of most of the plain-breasted sparrow options.
Well, if it's not a New World sparrow, where else should we look? If it were on the ABA checklist, we might look into Orange Bishop (an exotic becoming established in southern California), but that species has orange legs; at least, those individuals that remotely resemble our quiz bird do. Besides, it is not on the ABA checklist, so is not available as a quiz species. At least, though, the Orange Bishop is in the right section of the taxonomic list, as the only real remaining contenders belong to the Passeridae, the true sparrows (or, as ethnocentric North Americans might say, the Old World sparrows). I took this picture of a female House Sparrow in Lakewood, Jefferson Co., CO, on 21 May 2006.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the June Bird Photo Quiz—House Sparrow:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.