Ron and I saw some new birds in the honeysuckle bush this past Monday. Neither of us had seen them before, either at our old house or at White Pine Farm.
They were about cardinal or towhee size, but a bit rounder. They may, however, have simply been puffed up in the cold air. They looked a lot like some sort of sparrow, but they were darker and had many little stripes over their entire body.
We looked up “LBBs”–little brown birds–in our well-worn Sibley’s guide to birds. Ron guessed Savannah sparrow, which is described as “common and widespread.” I’m less certain. The length doesn’t seem big enough for the birds we saw. They were definitely bigger than sparrows (and chickadees, junkos, and finches). They were more the size of chubbier cardinals. In other words, the next size up in bird-land.
My guess was Vesper sparrow, but Sibley states that they are “uncommon.” However, they are a big bigger than Savannah sparrows. Interestingly, Sibley also says that they are “streaked overall similar to Savannah Sparrow, but larger with longer tail…” So Vesper isn’t a bad guess, but “uncommon” suggests it’s statistically less likely.
As birders know, LBBs are big PITAs in terms of identification. They are really hard to differentiate and I’m not a very good birder.
In short, the new birds are inconclusive. All we know is that there were some new (to us) birds in the honeysuckle bush. They were in a small flock of 6-10. After about an hour, they flew off and we haven’t seen them since.