Small wastewater pond 1/2 mile east of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, near Cottonwood, Idaho (Idaho County).
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Weedy grassy area around a small wasterwater pond and surrounded by Camas Prairie (mostly converted to cereal crops with patches of grass and ponderosa forest).
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
5-10 minutes under overcast sky, light rain. Viewed through 10X43 Bushnell Elite 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)
A chunky sparrow, similar is size/structure to a Song Sparrow, perhaps a bit smaller and more slender. Gray face with dark traingular line behind eye, reddish crown. Breast had sparse faint/blurry streaks and a faint/blurry central spot. Didn't see the mantle, upper-parts, well as it was facing me when perched on the fence. Before seeing the bird, I heard its loud "Tsip" calls that are similar to a Black Phoebe.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
I was viewing the pond at a distance and noticed quite a few sparrows in the brush and weeds. I spished loudly, and within a couple of minutes heard the loud distinctive calls of a Swamp Sparrow. After a couple more minutes, I located it perched on the fence, where it remained for at least 5 minutes, sometimes calling.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
The "Tsip" notes are highly distinctive, and I recognize them, well, as those of a swap sparrow. Spotting the bird perched on the fence confirmed by impression.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Weak blurry streaks are unlike the other 2 Melospiza sparrows and unlike white-throated sparrow. Different call notes, different face pattern (song sparrow is not gray in the face, Lincoln's has buffy malars and upper breast).
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Fairly extensive experience with Swap Sparrow- a low-density regular wintering species in NM and AZ, where I formerly resided. I've now encountered something like 8-9 in Idaho since October 2017, plus one has wintered adjacent to Idaho in Asotin, WA for 3 years in a row.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
18-ish years of frequent birding.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Photos and audio are associated with eBird checklist, but please let me know if I should forward copies directly to the committee.