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Number of species: 72

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Lincoln's Sparrow - Melospiza lincolnii

Most Lincoln's Sparrows can be aged by plumage characteristics, but some intermediates are difficult to age in spring. Sex can be determined only by brood patch / cloacal protuberance during the breeding season.

Juvenile plumage is very similar to that of Song and Swamp Sparrows; Lincoln's Sparrow tends to have a proportionately longer wing and shorter tail, and a grayish (as opposed to yellowish) upper mouth lining

Quick Tips:

  • Look at the tail - uniformly narrow and pointed rectrices OR contrastingly fresh and broad central rectrices are indicative of HY/SY, while uniformly broad and more rounded rectrices are typical of AHY/ASY
  • In fall, look at the face - HY birds tend to have a more golden-beige face including a beige eye ring, whereas AHY birds are more grayish, sometimes incluing a gray eye ring.
  • Check the outer primary coverts - they are relatively narrow and pointed with minimal pale brown edging on HY/SY birds, and relatively broad and rounded with fairly distinct brown edging on AHY/ASY birds

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
Variably distinct molt limit on wing showing a paler block of dull brown primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries (and some to all tertials); narrow and tapered rectrices, sometimes mixed with replaced (and broader) central rectrices; golden-beige face
Thumbnail - MR3-262108219-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1503.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-262108219-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1504.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-262108219-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1507.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-262108219-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1508.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-262108219-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1506.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-262108219-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1505.jpg

Thumbnail - RB4-NA_1810-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4915.jpeg Thumbnail - RB4-NA_1810-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4916.jpg Thumbnail - RB4-NA_1810-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4917.jpg Thumbnail - RB4-NA_1810-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4919.jpg Thumbnail - RB4-NA_1810-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4918.jpg

Thumbnail - RB4-2871-13410-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4922.jpg Thumbnail - RB4-2871-13410-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4923.jpg Thumbnail - RB4-2871-13410-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4924.jpg
After hatch year / Unknown
Wing largely uniform in colour and wear, with brown edging on broad and rounded primary coverts; broad and fairly rounded rectrices; gray-beige face
Thumbnail - MR3-2621-08460-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1582.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-2621-08460-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1584.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-2621-08460-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1585.jpg Thumbnail - MR3-2621-08460-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-1583.jpg
Second year / Unknown
Variably distinct molt limit on wing showing a paler block of dull brown primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries (and some to all tertials); narrow and tapered rectrices, sometimes mixed with replaced (and broader) central rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-NA_300-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-730.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_398-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-879.jpg
After second year / Unknown
Wing largely uniform in colour and wear, with brown edging on broad and rounded primary coverts; broad and fairly rounded rectrices
Thumbnail - MH3-NA_299-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-729.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_397-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-878.jpg

Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1526-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4061.jpg Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1526-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4064.jpg Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1526-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4065.jpg Thumbnail - LG3-NA_1526-Melospiza_lincolnii_AOU_7_52-4063.jpg

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 Relatively narrow primary coverts with minimal edging; narrow and tapered rectrices; golden-beige face; indistinct breast pattern.
Number of species: 72

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