Backyard Birds: Golden-Crowned Sparrow?

I need help identifying this bird.  It’s been visiting our yard in the San Francisco East Bay for about a month now.  At first, I thought it was an immature White-crowned Sparrow, but now I’m thinking it’s an immature Golden-crowned Sparrow.  With Project FeederWatch coming up, I want to make sure I have the right ID.  Thanks!

16 thoughts on “Backyard Birds: Golden-Crowned Sparrow?

  1. A couple other options for bird identification: (1) according to Project Feeder Watch you can send them a photo if you are unable to make an identification after trying more conventional means (see http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/BirdIdentification.htm) and (2) if you have a Flickr account, you can upload photos to the Bird Identification Help Group (http://www.flickr.com/groups/bird_id_group/). Even when I’ve shared poor quality photos (blurry, dark, etc.), the people there have been very helpful and they’ve always come up with the bird’s identity.

    • Thanks! I’ve decided it’s a 1st year White-crowned Sparrow. It showed up a couple days ago with two mature White-crowned Sparrows, with the distinctive black and white striped heads. I so wish I’d captured a photo of one of them!

  2. According to the Sibley’s (2003) guide here, I would say it’s a 1st Winter White-crowned Sparrow for two reasons. One, the bill of the Golden-crowned Sparrow is supposed to be grayish, and the bill of the White-crowned Sparrow is supposed to be pinkish-orange to orange. Two, the eyebrow is clearly defined on the White-crowned Sparrow and more plain, indistinct on the Yellow-crowned.

    Kudos on the camera work though, I can’t even get my dog to stay in focus let alone a tiny bird.

      • Yes, Sibley’s shows a narrow yellow-ish stripe on the crown 1st winter; and it says the Pacific variety has a yellower bill than the other variety. It’s possible you have Golden’s there though as the Winter is when they should be coastal Calif.

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