Thursday, May 30, 2013

Black-throated Sparrow at Osoyoos (May 30)

Photo: Dick Cannings
I discovered a singing Black-throated Sparrow  on the west bench of Osoyoos this morning (30 May 2013) at 7 a.m.; it was still present as of 9:45 a.m.  To reach the site, drive south on Hwy. 97 from the Hwy. 3 intersection on the west side of Osoyoos, then turn right (west) following signs for the Osoyoos golf course.  As you reach the golf course, watch for Fairwinds Drive on your left.  Turn on to Fairwinds and drive up the hill until it ends and turns into a gravel road and you cross a cattle-guard.  There are a myriad of rough gravel roads from here on, but one way to reach the site is to take the road on the left side and follow it over the hill until you see a a flat grassy clearinh with a couple of pieces of wood and a plastic pop bottle on the right. Vehicles with low clearance should probably park here. Continue up the hill on the main track past those two pieces of wood. You'll eventually come to an open meadow with several Russian Olives, and some couches, chairs and an obvious firepit--where someone has had a bush party.  The bird was on the large rocky hill directly to the west (the one behind the central Russian olive tree as you approach the grassy flat for the first time). I've placed some pink flagging-tape at the base of the hill. Continue to the south slope of the hill (instead of going right, past the couches). The bird was moving around a little but in general stayed on the south side of that rocky hill, singing sporadically.  GPS coordinates approximately 317917E 5430686N.

**PLEASE REFRAIN FROM USING PLAYBACK.** If the bird is still present, it should be findable with patience, as it was exhibiting all the characters of a territorial bird. After several years of sightings at this location, it is possible that they may one day be confirmed as breeders. Birders should do their best to avoid harassing it/them. Obviously morning is best! Tip: In addition to learning this sparrow's song, familiarize yourself with the songs/calls of Vesper, Brewer's, and Lark Sparrow, as well as Lazuli Bunting and Rock Wren, as all are present and common in this area, and can sound similar.

Good luck!


  1. I live next to Fairwinds Dr. and have also observed the Black-throated Sparrow in my back yard on a number of occasions during the month of May. On one occasion a small flock of 5 or 6 spent about 15 minute in and around the bushes and upper lawn area before heading off in a southern direction. I assumed they were migrating through the area or simply moved down from the mountains behind my house for a feeding opportunity. I must say there black heads with the two white bands were quite noticeable from 8 m away.

  2. Thanks for the comment Gary. Wow 5/6 would be an amazing count! Are you sure they weren't Lark Sparrows? They also have strong facial patterning and are much commoner than the BT Sparrows.