Stripe-headed Sparrow

Stripe-headed Sparrow, courtesy of Richard Garrigues

Stripe-headed Sparrow, courtesy of Richard Garrigues

No, I have not found a stray Stripe-headed Sparrow (Peucaea ruficauda) in our very wet Turrialba area. This large and handsome sparrow likes it dry and is found almost exclusively in Guanacaste, where most of the foreign, sun-seeking tourists congregate. My excuse for including it here is that I made a brief trip to Atenas, in the western Central Valley, furthest point east and south for the distribution of this species, and upon entering the sighting in the eBird database (highly recommended for all birders, by the way) discovered that it’s officially my 400th sighting for Costa Rica. After 8 years in the country I still haven’t seen even close to half of the species (903 at the latest count)! Well, I probably have identified many more, but I don’t have the records of old sightings that are necessary to enter them in the database.

As a resident of Turrialba, the first impression I had when noting this species for the first time in several years was of a large Rufous-collared Sparrow with a long tail. Identification is not really a problem, however, because of the striped head, the rufous at the shoulder, and the aforementioned long tail. Richard Garrigues notes in The Birds of Costa Rica that it has recently been spotted way down south on the Pacific Coast near Dominical and thus may be extending its range.

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