Documentation of Black-throated Sparrow

Observer Information

Reporter:  Sally Waterhouse  13623 County Road 261L,   Nathrop, CO  81236-7713
Other Observers:  Abby Heller

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Black-throated Sparrow
First Date/Time:  4/4/2023 9:45:00 AM
Last Date/Time:  4/4/2023 10:50:00 AM
Duration (total time in view):  about 5 minutes total; several observations within the time period above
County:  Chaffee
Specific Location:  Private residence
Number:  1
Age:  Adult
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Breeding


high grass and bush area with boulders created by landowner with feeders and water bath below

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  8x42 binoculars but could be seen by eye
Distance:  25 feet to 50 feet
Light:  sunlight

Description of the Bird

Abby Heller was the finder of the bird at her private residence (she does not want the specific location of the private residence, which is close to a public road, revealed) Thus the delay in submitting this report and my ebird report.  Abby recognized it was a species she had not observed before and subsequently sent a photo to a friend who IDed it and recognized it might be unusual both for early date and location and posed the question on an email list that I read.  I followed up and was able to make contact with her.   She was gracious enough to allow me to view the bird from her residence with the understanding I would not say anything about the sighting to other birders until long after it was gone to insure her home privacy.  However she recognized that the bird should be recorded officially for the county and was willing to do that herself but was running into problems on this website.  I offered to do it for her and she was grateful.  

The bird was first sighted by Abby on April 1, 2023 and the last sighting was by Abby on April 8, 2023; 

The bird was associating with a flock of House Sparrows.  Since I was observing from inside through closed windows I would not hear any vocalizations.  The bird was primarily foraging on the ground along the manmade berm of grasses and small bushes interspersed with rock.  It would occasionally fly off with the HOSP to the road edge of other dried grass and then return.  On a couple occasions it came out into the open and once flew up to the water bath. On other days, Abby had seen it pecking at mixed seed she dispersed on the ground within a few feet of the house but I didn't observe that.

The bird clearly showed the distinctive face markings of black throat, dark gray mask bordered by white and partial white eye ring. Otherwise the bird was gray throughout, with darker gray/brown tinge on the back, slightly lighter breast/belly and some white bordering the v-shaped black throat.


Similar Species Discussion

 I really didn't need to consider anything else.  The markings were distinct.

Resources Used

I did check Sibley and Birds of the World to double check whether I could determine sex or age and concluded I could not.

Previous Experience

I am familiar with this bird.  I have seen it numerous times in other states and southeast of Alamosa, CO where I have a BBS route.



Materials Available

Photographer: Sally Waterhouse

Photos |


Date Documentation Submitted

5/8/2023 2:16:00 PM
Click left or right edges of photos to move through all; click outside image to close

Location Map

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2) No specific coordinates are available but the location is mappable.
3) A generic location with no specific coordinates is mapped to the center of the reported county.

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