Lincoln’s Sparrow in Montana

Sparrows seem to be overlooked often as subjects, I’ve heard people call them Little Brown Birds (LBB) or Little Brown Jobs (LBJ). I try to photograph them whenever I can get close though.

Lincoln's Sparrow perched on a fencepostLincoln’s Sparrow perched on a fencepost – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light

This Lincoln’s Sparrow was photographed last month at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, the spring green leaves in the distant background sure don’t compete with the subtle beauty of this sparrow.

*I am away for a few days, please feel free to share this post with your friends and family. I’ll catch up on everyone’s great blogs when I get back!



  1. Mathew July 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    “They are well named because it seems they sing all spring and summer long in some location, I get to hear them year round in Utah.” I am not sure if I understand the comment, but I can agree with that in part because the genus name is Melospiza, which is the same as the song sparrow (M. melodia). From my perspective, I must admit that I find this image, acutely, wanting in that it would be difficult for me to distinguish this individual from the song sparrow. The Lincoln’s–which I must have seen, but am still holding to add to my own list–is distinct from its congener by the markings on the throat (and with a malar stripe that is less defined) and the buff colouration on the breast. If it is preferable to photograph this one from the front, it is, however, nonetheless clear that the markings on the back of your sparrow are more clearly defined, which is not the case with the song sparrow.

  2. Kathiesbirds July 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Mia, great job!

  3. Julie Brown July 18, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Super background, and the profile pose shows the sharp pointed bill perfectly. Great shot of this bird, Mia. I happen to like sparrows very much.

    • Mia McPherson July 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you Julie, sparrows are great subjects.

    • Mia McPherson July 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Thank you Julie!

  4. Scott July 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Wonderful photo!. I’m so jealous.

  5. Hilke Breder July 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Lovely shot! Beautiful colors and pattern, and nothing to distract from it, which is usually a problem with sparrows.

    • Mia McPherson July 18, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Thank you Hilke, sparrows do seem to like hiding behind things.

  6. Laurence Butler July 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Very handsome Mia, lovely shot. I think though that this is actually a Lincoln’s Sparrow, a speckled and similar-looking buddy of the Song Sparrow. I don’t specifically recall seeing Lincoln’s Sparrows on your site before, but either way, now there’s another excellent documentation here!

    • Mia McPherson July 18, 2012 at 5:40 am

      Thanks Laurence, I have made the ID correction and washed the egg off of my face!

  7. Reid Barclay July 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Very nice photo Mia, but it looks to me like a Lincoln’s Sparrow to me due to the grey over the eye and on the throat and the yellowish line on the side of the throat.

    • Mia McPherson July 18, 2012 at 5:37 am

      Thank you Reid, I appreciate the ID correction. I changed the name in the post, it is the best I can do on my phone while in the middle of nowhere in Montana. Thanks again.

  8. Stu July 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Great shot Mia. Have a good trip.

  9. Carol Mattingly July 17, 2012 at 9:07 am

    He’s beautiful Mia. I’ve never seen a Song Sparrow but he his blue is fantastic. As usual the light is gorgeous. Carol

    • Mia McPherson July 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      Carol, I miss ID’d this bird, it is a Lincoln’s Sparrow! Thanks for commenting.

  10. Bob Zeller July 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Great photo, Mia. Like Tammy, I didn’t know that about other birds not being able to imitate it. BTW, Sparrows are the most difficult birds for me to try and identify. There are a few that distinctively stand out, the Lark, White-crowned, Black-throated, to name a few, but on the other side, there are a bunch that almost all look alike.

    • Mia McPherson July 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Bob, I miss ID’d this sparrow, it is a Lincoln’s. I have a hard time with sparrow I’d too it seems! Thanks for your comment.

  11. Dan Huber July 17, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Very nice photo, showing off the subtle but beautiful colors these lbj’s have.

  12. Tammy Karr July 17, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Gorgeous photo Mia! That’s interesting that other birds aren’t able to imitate the Song Sparrow.

Comments are closed.