[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2013] – I spotted this interesting looking Golden-crowned Sparrow at the south end of Famosa Slough, Point Loma on 13 March, 2013. It appears to be in prealternate molt showing off plenty of black feathering in the cap. Nice dark colored feathers are growing in about the head, and new, darker, central rectrices appear to be growing in also. In addition the tertials and inner greater secondary coverts, at least four, look very fresh and richly colored, particularly compared to the worn and faded primaries visible in the folded wing.
The mix-and-match feathering of the head really creates a striking looking pattern – I had to take a second look just to convince myself what was going on here! In the lateral crown stripes the mixture of brown and black colored feathers looks pretty unusual. Maybe there is only a short time-frame here in Southern California when we would see such a head pattern in this species but an appearance worth keeping in mind. Golden-crowned Sparrows seem to be thinning out in numbers right now at my favorite spots in Point Loma. At places where I had seen 4 or 5 individuals before, now there are just odd ones and twos present.