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Sparrow and Duck/Goose, Northern California, US (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I saw these two birds on the morning of 2017-01-02 at at Palo Alto Baylands Park in Palo Alto California. I assume the first is some kind of sparrow, but as usual I'm having difficulty narrowing down which kind. The second appears to some kind of goose or perhaps a large duck, but I again I haven't been able to identify it more specificially. Any help identifying them would be appreciated. TIA.


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Well-known member
Thanks folks.

@rjk, For my edification, would you mind describing how you know its a Golden-crowned without being able to see the golden crown?

Little SuperBirder

Addicted to Birds
You can just make out the yellow on the front of the head. It's an immature bird, so it's not going to have a lot of yellow regardless of angle. That mantle pattern of a light color with dark, thick streaks is characteristic of Zonotrichia sparrows, and the four species in that genus are White-crowned, Harris's, Golden-crowned, and White-throated. Harris's can easily be ruled out due to range but more importantly head pattern. All the others can be ruled out by head pattern as well (both White-crowned and White-throated have more streaked heads).


Well-known member
LSB has stated it well. Wintering Golden-crowned Sparrows often look quite plain-faced compared to White-crowned or White-throated. The bi-colored bill is also a good mark. The yellow visible on the lores is common in Golden-crowned, but never seen in White-crowned.
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