Interior West White-crowned Sparrow

Interior West White-crowned Sparrow perched on Western ServiceberryInterior West White-crowned Sparrow perched on Western Serviceberry – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Bird photography isn’t easy and for smaller birds like this adult White-crowned Sparrow it can be challenging and require more patience than when photographing larger birds. I saw this Interior West White-crowned Sparrow fly in to a Western Serviceberry near Red Rock Creek where it was hidden behind the foliage and my hope was that it would pop up on top of the bush and eventually it did.

White-crowned Sparrow with a Western ServiceberryWhite-crowned Sparrow with a Western Serviceberry – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I was a bit frustrated that there were out of focus leaves on the sides of the White-crowned Sparrow that were in the foreground (note the larger size of the leaves) but after reviewing the images on my monitor I decided they added to the image and didn’t detract from the bird. I also liked and appreciated that the sparrow had one of the berries in its bill.

Adult Interior West White-crowned SparrowAdult Interior West White-crowned Sparrow – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

After eating the berry the White-crowned Sparrow flew to an old fence post near the Serviceberry bush and I was able to get a few images of it there with a dark background caused by the willows being in a shadow. I’m always delighted to photograph smaller birds such as this White-crowned Sparrow.

There are currently 5 subspecies of White-crowned Sparrows and this one is an Interior West White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha) which is also sometimes called the Mountain White-crowned Sparrow. We have them here in Utah where they breed in the mountains then they migrate south to winter in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.



  1. Kathie September 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Mia, I always love to see this species with its brightly striped crown! We get a few passing through here in the east, but most often and more numerous are the White-throated sparrows. I, too, like the photo of the bird in the bush with the berry in its mouth. I love to see the birds in the context of nature!

  2. Elephant's Child September 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Such stylish little birds. And yes, difficult to photograph. They move so fast, and their flight pattern is so erratic. Thank you for a gorgeous series of this cheeky charmer.

  3. Carroll Tarvin September 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I am absolutely awed at the hugh number of varieties of birds. You have really made an impression on me by your many photos of countless varieties of birds. I would never be able to identify them on site, but I can appreciate day to day what nature has made available to our earthly environment. Thank you so much.

  4. Patty Chadwick September 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I love these little guys! These are wonderful images of one of my favorite little birds…we see a lot of them in the winter. I liike the softly out of focus leaves…sometimes, if everything is super sharp, it’s almost too much visual information…Artistically, I think these are perfect…

  5. John Randall September 19, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Beautiful Portraits Mia!

  6. steven kessel September 19, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Lovely pictures, Mia. These birds show up where I live (near Tucson) in late autumn and remain until spring, inhabiting the upland desert near our home. In winter, at least, they form small and noisy flocks and they are among most commonly seen species in certain communities.

    • Mia McPherson September 19, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Steven, thanks. I’m sure before long you will be seeing these beautiful sparrows!

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