[Tweeters] Stripe-haired sparrows - Zonotrichia

Stewart Wechsler ecostewart at quidnunc.net
Mon Mar 19 21:23:12 PDT 2007

I couldn't resist looking up Zonotrichia. (That's White-crowned,
White-throated, Golden-crowned and Harris's Sparrows in our area.) Zon =
zone or band, trichia = hair - apparently referring to the top of the head
where the hair would be if it were a mammal, making Zonotrichia something
like "banded-haired" Or "band-headed" or "stripe-headed". I got it off this
site with some wonderful close-ups of a White-throated (or is it
white-stalked?) Sparrow's head:
http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek061101.html .

Though I don't advocate posting birds names exclusively by scientific names,
I have found that familiarizing myself with them can be quite useful in
realizing connections and physical and behavioral patterns in birds of the
same genus. Though I don't ever remember seeing a Harris' Sparrow, I expect
knowing that a Harris's Sparrow is a Zonotrichia would helpful in spotting
one. If I remember correctly local sightings have often been with other
Zonotrichias - Golden-crowned and White-crowned sparrows. I expect their
behavior and habitat preferences along with the subtleties of their form and
markings are similar. I may regognize it as a Zonotrichia before
recognizing the field marks that distinguish the bird in one plumage or
another as a Harris's.

Stewart Wechsler
Ecological Consulting
West Seattle
206 932-7225
mailto:ecostewart at quidnunc.net

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