Mann Lake, Nez Perce County, at the east end of Power Avenue east of Lewiston Orchards. Reservation Line Road crosses the Mann Lake outflow ~200 meters below the dam, and the sparrow was at that crossing.
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Edge of a cattail marsh with canary reed grass, thistles, and other weeds, in a broader landscape of mostly wheat fields.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
On and off or 15-20 minutes, overcast with light rain. Bushnell Elite 10X43 binoculars.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
No, not at all
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Sorry, no notes. See photos.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Secretive and skulking. Even after hearing the distinctive calls, it took me several minutes to get a look at the bird. Characteristically for this species, it would call for a bit, eventually pop up, and then seemingly disappear for extending periods before suddenly calling and reappearing. After a few rounds of this, the bird UNcharacteristcally came out in the open and foraged cooperatively for up to 10 minutes before disappearing again.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
I knew what it was from the first "Tsip" note. It's quite similar to a Black Phoebe (somewhat weaker) and a call I've been comfortable for more than a decade.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Song Sparrow eliminated by weak blurry streaking and indistinct central spot on breast, gray face, clean gray nape, dark triangular-shaped post ocular line, dark black streaking on red back. Lincoln's sparrow by weak blurry breast streaking, grayish (not buffy) breast ground-color, bolder triangular post-ocular, chunkier build. White-throated Sparrow eliminated by blurry-streaked breast, gray face, red mantle with bold black streaks. Distinct call note.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Extensive for all.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
18-ish years of serious birding. Term-limited former member of Nevada Bird Records Committee. eBird reviewer in Idaho and Nevada. PhD student in avian ecology.