Sage Sparrow has recently been split into two species: Bell’s Sparrow and Sagebrush Sparrow. Of course this is great for listers and bird nerds alike because it adds another identification challenge and tick. Sage Sparrow originally was composed of three mainland subspecies: belli, canescens, and nevadensis. Although canescens is somewhat intermediate between the two, it has been put with Bell’s Sparrow while nevadensis stands as the lone Sagebrush Sparrow. My next post on this blog has pics of canescens and Sagebrush Sparrow. The canescens subspecies was named after atriplex canescens or Four-wing Saltbrush, a plant that the bird are apparently fond of.
Some interest has been raised regarding my sighting of some Sage Sparrows from October 31, 2010. Wes Fritz and I found these birds in the Cuyama Valley which is located in the far north east corner of Santa Barbara county. I believe that all these birds can be safely identified to Bell’s Sparrow (see the following article from Peter Pyle). However, I thought it might be interesting to see what people thought about the subspecies of this birds.