Eaton Canyon – Black-throated Sparrow

25 08 2013
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Black-throated Sparrow – Catherine Hamilton

Pleased to find this Black-throated Sparrow down in the wash at Eaton Canyon yesterday evening. Popped back today with Catherine Hamilton and ran into Darren Dowell who was looking to add it to his Big Year list. I have to admit this isn’t a plumage I am used to seeing after connecting with them solely in breeding plumage in Colorado etc.

Black-throated Sparrow is uncommon to rare in the LA Basin. It just seems to rarely get down on this side of the mountain even though it is relatively common once you get out into appropriate habitat just the other side of the San Gabriel Mountains. You can see this nicely on eBird (here).  Of any places this side of the San Gabriel Mountains it would seem the Eaton Canyon flood basin is the best place to find one. This individual seems relatively early: the second earliest record I can find among eBird records.

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Black-throated Sparrow – Catherine Hamilton

The thing that is funny about this bird is that although it is a great bird for this side of the mountains because Los Angeles County stretches over the mountains into the sparrows breeding habitat (around Lancaster) it’s not that special for the county. I’m starting to learn some interesting stuff about both migration and distribution out here, it certainly seems much more complicated than back in Connecticut and New York. With Black-throated Sparrow itself it seems that movements (as with many desert species) are not completely understood and the eBird occurrence maps (here) show an early season range expansion but a fairly complicated picture after that until a pronounced retreat late fall or early winter. 

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