Swamp Sparrow in Jacumba

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2012] – The wind and cool weather kept the birds quiet at the riparian area on the west side of Jacumba late this afternoon. So I explored a bit downstream from the hot water seeps, getting out of the wind, and found some nice stands of bulrush backed by willows. I made a few pishing sounds and immediately heard a phoebe like call coming from low down in the vegetation. A couple seconds later and up popped just what I was searching for – this richly colored Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana.

The clean gray nape and supercilium and well marked rufous in the crown indicates this is an adult Swamp Sparrow. The small finer looking bill, pale brown upper back color, and brightly colored flanks, point to this being the expected form “Northern” or “Western” Swamp Sparrow to be found wintering in California M.g. ericrypta.

This would seem to be a banner year for this delightful sparrow in San Diego County. The first record of the fall came back on 31 Oct 2012 when one was found by Paul Lehman at Famosa Slough. By coincidence, another individual was also found by Jay Keller today, 17 Nov 2012, at the Bird and Butterfly Garden in the Tijuana River Valley. This brings the Fall 2012 total to three records so far in the county. Perhaps there are more Swamp Sparrows out there to be found!

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