Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana) in its first-winter plumage
Date: February 18, 2005
Location: Livermore, CA (Alameda Co.)
Here is another view (Click here)
Photo by: Akira So
This appears to be a first winter bird, in particular based on the brownish ear-coverts (which were noticeable to me in the field, if not in these photos) and the tan face. Winter adult's ear-coverts may also show a slight "brown tinge," but with a grayish face, not tan / buff. This sparrow was first spotted at the the same location on Nov. 13, 2004 by Art Edwards and George Bing.
"1st winter ... usually olive-tinged face" [The Sibley Guide to Birds]; "First winter (Aug-Mar) - resemble adults, but the nape, supercilium, and ear-coverts are buffy brown rather than grayish, and the crown is dark brown, heavily streaked, with little or no rusty." [Sparrows of the United States and Canada: The Photographic Guide by Rising and Beadle]; "First-winter: Similar to adult but with streaked crown, brownish ear-coverts, supraloral and malar region washed buff. Breast gray variably striated darker and flanks extensively washed cinnamon-brown." [A guide to the Identification and Natural History of the Sparrows of the United States and Canada by Rising and Beadle]
NOTE on colors: Best viewed on a PC monitor calibrated as follows: Monitor color temperature set to 6500K. Contrast turned up to max. Brightness and monitor gamma then adjusted to the de-facto web standard of 2.2.