Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the May 11, 2014 Newsletter issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA
LARK SPARROWS

Lark Sparrow, male, CHONDESTES GRAMMACUS

The two most common sparrow species here are the Chipping and Lark Sparrows. Chipping Sparrows commonly visit Juniper House's feeder, but Lark Sparrows never do, though sometimes individuals call from trees not far away. You see Lark Sparrows perched in wire fences and at the edges of sunbaked little gravel roads. Often they forage on open ground right at the road's edge -- walking, not hopping like many sparrow species -- where if you get too close they quickly dodge into the grass or fly away. When Lark Sparrows take flight, in that split second just before they alight, they fan their tails to brake their descent, and then white outer feathers conspicuously flash at the tail 's edges, and that's a fine field mark.

If you get close enough to see a Lark Sparrow's face, it's patterning is so bold and distinctive that you can't confuse it with that of any other species, as you can see in our picture.

During the summer, Lark Sparrows are fairly common in dry fields near brush or trees throughout the western US, and in our area they're common year round. They extend a bit east of the Mississippi River, though at my previous homes in Kentucky and Mississippi they were never common.