White-crowned without White Crown: October 15, 2021

The White-crowned Sparrow is a fairly common migrant through Ontario but nesting is mainly in the vicinity of Hudson and James Bay. Most go south in winter to the southern United States and Mexico though some stay in our area near feeders.

Confusingly, many of the migrants we see are young birds and have brownish crowns. We saw these this morning by the Guild Inn.

White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)
Cardinal (male) and White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)
White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)
White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)
White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile)
White-crowned Sparrows (juvenile)

Another migrant bird named for the colour of its crown is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. In general, the ruby crown is concealed showing up only in moments of excitement when the crown feathers are raised.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (from a previous walk)

The kinglet that we saw this morning did not show the ruby crown.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Other birds:

American Robin
Ring-billed Gulls, Cormorant and Red-breasted Mergansers
Northern Flicker
Ring-billed Gulls and Red-breasted Mergansers

Species list: double-crested cormorant, red-breasted merganser, killdeer, ring-billed gull, mourning dove, northern flicker, blue jay, American crow, black-capped chickadee, American robin, ruby-crowned kinglet, golden-crowned kinglet, European starling, house sparrow, common grackle, northern cardinal, American goldfinch, white-crowned sparrow. (18 species)

Guild area scenes:

Brown-lipped Snail
Red Squirrel
gull feather

Today’s group:

Some botany:

Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus inserta)
Evening Primrose (Oenothera)
Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
Corn Gromwell (Stoneseed) Buglossoides arvensis
Indian-hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)
Heart-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)
Red Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
Red-osier (Cornus sericea)
Hawkweed (Hieracium murorum)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Silver Maple (Acer sachharinum)
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)


A short wonderful video explaining murmurations. 


The mug of cider simmered slow, 
The apples sputtered in a row, 
And, close at hand, the basket stood 
With nuts from brown October’s wood.            – John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

Miles Hearn

1 thought on “White-crowned without White Crown: October 15, 2021

  1. Diana Chastain

    I saw a small flock of white and brown crowned sparrows eating on the ground at Colonel Sam Smith. I wondered about the ‘brown crowned’ so thanks for the information.



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