Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Nelson's Sparrow. Hadley Honey Pot, Hampshire County, MA. October 20th, 2009.

Calm conditions this morning felt good for my first serious sparrow quest of the season, so after dropping Matan off at day care I decided to check a couple of spots in the Hadley Honey Pot before heading home. The end result was one very productive hour capped off by this super Nelson's Sparrow, my first locally since 2006 and the latest by over two weeks!

Unlike most Nelson's Sparrows that I've found inland, this bird had a uniquely steely-gray cast to much of the plumage especially the upperparts including the rump, leading me to consider (quite seriously) the possibility that it may be of the Atlantic Coastal form - subvirgatus. If so, I think (?) it would be a pretty remarkable inland record.

By way of comparison, here's a page of images from Two Mile Landing, Cape May in mid-October 2008 which I think illustrate coastal and interior forms of Nelson's and also Saltmarsh Sparrows. They were all together in the same spot.

Anyhow, I'd certainly appreciate some feedback on the possibilities of this Hadley bird being subvirgtaus and how best to separate them from the interior forms. Thank you.

1 comment:

Larry said...

An interesting bird and a great find.