Borrego "Sage" Sparrow follies & Eur Wigeon; Pt Loma Summer T.
Yesterday, Dec 1, there was a splotchy young male Summer Tanager at Gage X Dupont in residential Point Loma.
Today, the 2nd, Barbara Carlson and I went over to Borrego Springs for the morning. Best bird in town was a female Eurasian Wigeon in a flock of 130 Americans. We endeavored again to study "Sage" Sparrows, this time along Old Springs (Dump) Road just to the east of the airport. We had 6 birds in saltbush (Atriplex) habitat to the east of the road. Three fairly clear Bell's (canescens), with weak, blurry back streaking restricted to the sides (scapulars) and a broad, very dark partial malar (lower half only) that was darker than the head. Two uncertain birds. And one very cooperative bird that had a thin, grayish malar that was concolorous with the head, and sharp but fine (pencil -like) back streaks that went all the way across the back. This last bird could be a Sagebrush Sparrow, as these marks fall well within its range, but the extreme canescens Bell's could probably show these characters as well. Reported differences in the supercilium have been questioned by some as being inconclusive and with plenty of overlap. Differences in tail pattern may be best studied in photos or in the hand, but tough to see well in the field, and may be better at telling nominate (belli) Bell's from Sagebrush, but that isn't too difficult in any case, if seen well–and there shouldn't be much range overlap between those two in any case (except if a vagrant Sagebrush is found closer to the coast!). In the end, we departed thinking that we may well have seen one Sagebrush Sparrow, but I wouldn't stake my life on it!
–Paul Lehman, San Diego
Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports