An Introduction to Our Local Sparrows, as Spotted Recently on Bernal Hill


Neigbor John and his 7 year-old son Eddie live on Lundys. They’re heavy into bird-watching, and they inform us that Bernal Heights is actually a rather lively place to spy the local avians.

Neighbor John tells Bernalwood:

Here are three photos I took while bird watching with Eddie this morning. Within 100 yards on the south slope of Bernal Heights Blvd. we saw all three of the varieties of sparrows that can be seen on the hill.

The White Crowned Sparrow is obvious, with the distinctive white stripes on its head. They are currently in their “first winter” plumage:

White Crowned Sparrow

The second is the Golden Crown Sparrow, also in the first winter plumage. While you can clearly see the gold color on its head, the color will brighten as we head into spring:

Golden Crowned Sparrow

The House Sparrow is actually an ally of the finches. It has a distinctive, if boring, slate gray scalp, which is more than made up for with the black breast and colorful brown back:

House Sparrow

One of the lessons we are learning from bird watching with Eddie is to take joy in watching common birds. And, when you look closely, they have interesting stories as well!

PHOTOS: Neighbor John and Eddie

12 thoughts on “An Introduction to Our Local Sparrows, as Spotted Recently on Bernal Hill

  1. i see a bird with a yellow belly often in my bottle brush – they’re about the same size as a sparrow and they have short clipped tweets. so sweet. do you know what it is?

  2. We’ve seen a number of warblers around, Yellow Rumped, Townsend’s and Wilson’s. The Wilson’s is the most yellow, the Townsend’s has beautiful black and yellow stripes around the eyes. We also see Lesser Goldfinch. Hopefully we will be posting more birds as we get photos.

  3. Thank you John. I don’t see too many sparrows here on Moultrie, but see humming birds. I have two feeders out for them . Also see a lot of butterflies. I recently bought some milkweed seeds since Monarch butterflies are on the endangered list.
    Thanks for the photos.

    • What type of soil does milkweed flourish in? I read there is a high risk of parasitic infection – do we need to focus on greenhouse raised milkweed?

      • Hi Liz
        I’m starting the milkweed seeds in potting soil.i just started them a few days ago. When it’s time to transplant them I plan to plant them here & there in my garden in full sun. Have a good day

  4. Thank you John and Eddie, I hope this becomes a regular series here. I often walk our neighborhood on dog walks and love being informed about plants, wildlife, and neighborhood history. Thanks for the knowledge!

  5. Thank you for sharing John, I thought that Sparrows were all basically the same, I surely will be looking more closer now at them!

  6. Is there anything that can reasonably be done to encourage our avian brethren? I wonder about adding nesting boxes or feeders… something else?? Our rear neighbors have a large number of boxes that seem unmaintained and unoccupied, which made me wonder if they’re the wrong kind; and/or what can or should be done to help?

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