English  | Français  | Español
Lists:  CAN        
Number of species: 80

Select a species:

  
 
:   Clear  

Clay-colored Sparrow - Spizella pallida

Clay-colored Sparrows can generally be aged by a combination of molt limits and feather condition, but some intermediates may be difficult to assess by spring. Sex is reliably determined only via brood patch / cloacal protuberance during the breeding season.

Juvenile plumage is very similar to that of Chipping Sparrow; exercise caution where ranges overlap. Clay-colored Sparrow tends to be smaller, with a proportionately longer tail, and has fainter streaking on the breast.

Quick Tips:

  • Check the wing for molt limits - a contrast between darker/fresher greater coverts vs. the paler block of primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries is indicative of HY/SY, while the wing is more uniform in colour and wear on AHY/ASY birds
  • Examine the shape and condition of the rectrices - they tend to be narrower and more pointed on HY/SY birds, and by spring also tend to be more visibly frayed / worn, while AHY/ASY birds have somewhat broader rectrices that typically show only moderate wear by spring

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Unknown
Molt limit on wing, sometimes subtle, showing paler block of primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed.
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35555-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1820.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35555-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1822.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35555-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1821.jpg
Date: Sep 10
After hatch year / Unknown
Wing largely uniform in colour and wear; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35580-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1814.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35580-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1816.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-35580-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1815.jpg
Date: Sep 11
Second year / Unknown
Molt limit on wing showing paler block of primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries; rectrices relatively narrow, pointed, and worn
Thumbnail - MG2-2580-26750-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1823.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2580-26750-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1825.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2580-26750-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1824.jpg
Date: Jul 18
After second year / Unknown
Wing largely uniform in colour and wear; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-9900-00001-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1817.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-9900-00001-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1819.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-9900-00001-Spizella_pallida_AOU_7_52-1818.jpg
Date: May 20

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Juvenile / Unknown Breast with very fine streaks
Number of species: 80

Select a species: