Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) photos by Larry Jordan

Nearly two years ago I wrote my second post as the West Coast Beat Writer on Lema Ranch, a Northern California birding hot spot. I feel really lucky to have this McConnell Foundation headquarters available as a local birding spot because of the number of species that can bee seen there (currently 125) and, because it is a popular local jogging spot, the birds are relatively jaded to people being in close proximity during daylight hours.

The Lark Sparrow’s distinctive alternating chestnut, black, and white facial pattern make this probably the easiest sparrow to identify in the field.

I like the interesting pattern on the crown

It would seem that with that bold facial plumage this sparrow would be easily seen while foraging…

but as you can see, they are pretty well camouflaged as they forage on the ground, mostly for seeds.

Here you can see the white edged tail, reminiscent of the Eastern and Spotted Towhees, which is more conspicuous in flight than it is when the bird is perched.

I couldn’t help but notice these Lark Sparrows when a flock of nearly a dozen birds flew from some scrub oaks to the ground just off the pathway across from Mule Pond, but it wasn’t easy to spot them on the ground unless they were moving.

I caught this one as it perched briefly on the fence.

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Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.