White-crowned Sparrow

Prothonotary Warbler by Tom Finnie
© Tom Finnie
Zonotrichia leucophrys
Few birds possess the debonair appearance of the adult White-crowned Sparrow. The manner in which it holds itself erect, with the feathers on the back of its head slightly raised, gives it a peculiar distinction that is further heightened by the black and white stripes on its head and by its pink bill. Immatures have the black of the head replaced by rufous brown and the white replaced by light buffy brown.
The White-crowned Sparrow breeds across northern North America and at high elevation in the Rockies, and it winters in the southern Unites States and Mexico. Fall migrants appear in Louisiana generally in October, and a few may linger as late as mid-May. The bird frequents hedgerows, overgrown pastures, and other similar situations where there are brush heaps, blackberry tangles, or any sort of thickets in the open. Immatures are seen much more frequently in Louisiana than are adults, at least until after the prenuptial molt is completed that puts the first-year birds into their first breeding plumage.
The White-crowned Sparrow is at no time very common in Louisiana, but sometimes a small flock will take up its winter residence in a corner of a certain pasture or along one short section of a railroad right-of-way. There the flock will remain until late the following spring, when evidently the entire group departs together for some distant coniferous clearing in a faraway Canadian wilderness.
--George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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