ID help from GC north rim
11 Oct 2011, 5:51 AM,
ID help from GC north rim
Hi Birders,
We visited the north rim at GCNP from 1 - 5 Oct. We didn't find a lot of birds, but we're still new to birding and lacked familiarity with western birds, so we might have missed some. A lot of what we saw were lifers. While hiking on the Kaibab trail between Supai tunnel and the trailhead, we came across this sparrow. I think it's a Rufous-crowned because of the cap and the malar marks. At least, I'm pretty sure about the bird in the 1st picture.


The 2nd picture looks pretty similar, but the malar mark isn't apparent.


Is the 2nd bird a Rufous-crowned?

Another question I have has to do with something we heard while hiking along Kaibab trail. There were animals in several trees and in the shrubs along the switchbacks making sounds that seemed to me like the call of Townsend's Solitaire as can be heard on's sound sample but I couldn't be sure, because we never saw what was making the sound, even though we seemed to be standing right next to it at one point. When I asked at the info center, the staff said that they weren't too familiar with bird calls, but suggested that it was rock squirrel. I was able to find a sample of the rock squirrel call online and it does sound similar, so probably at least half, if not most of the sources were rock squirrels, since we saw those frequently. Does anyone know what are the chances that at least one of the sources was a Townsend's Solitaire in the canyon along the Kaibab? Are the solitaires common inside the canyon?

Here is a list of all the birds we encountered while walking around over the 5 days:
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine (* lifer)
Dusky Grouse *
White-throated Swift *
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker, Western form *
Steller's Jay *
Western Scrub-jay
Common Raven
Mountain Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch *
Western Bluebird *
Hermit Thrush
Yellow-rumped (Audubon's * and I think a couple of Myrtles)
Townsend's Warbler *
Hermit Warbler *
<strike>Rufous-crowned Sparrow *</strike> White-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco

We stopped at Navajo bridge when we left and saw the California Condor with the tag ID F2 hanging out at the base of the pedestrian bridge. And while driving along 89, I think we had a Sage Thrasher on a fence line, but it's hard to tell when you're 60mph+ and you've not seen one before.

John Polo
Stillwater, OK

Attached Files Image(s)
11 Oct 2011, 8:28 AM,
Your bird looks like an immature White-crowned Sparrow to me.

11 Oct 2011, 8:49 AM,
Both photos depict an immature "Gambel's" White-crowned Sparrow.

I think it's completely conceivable that you heard Townsend's Solitaires.

11 Oct 2011, 8:59 AM,
RE: ID help from GC north rim
NAUbirder and gbotello,

Thank you.

Well, I'll have to edit that list of sightings now. Sparrows are difficult!


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