Friday, October 17, 2014
Bird of the Day: Golden-crowned Sparrow on the Tuolumne River
Zonotrichia atricapilla). I've only recognized it once before (remember, I'm still new at this!), and it stuck around long enough for pictures.
The Golden-crowned Sparrow apparently isn't a year-round resident around here. They breed in the far north and spend the winter in California and northern Mexico. They are closely related to the White-crowned Sparrows and are thought to have branched off from them in recent geologic time. The White-crowned Sparrows are found across North America while the Golden-crowned are mostly a west coast species.
The Tuolumne River is a real treasure. It has its more famous sections up in Yosemite National Park (Tuolumne Meadows and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne), but it adds a thread of life to the arid floor of the Great Valley where I live. I could be accused of taking it for granted sometimes (though I disagree, mostly), but had a small realization the other day. Mrs. Geotripper was looking at some pictures a friend from southern California had posted, and asked "Do you know where this river is?" Her friend had called it a bit of paradise. I looked and realized she was talking about the river in our own backyard. The friend just happened to be visiting our town, and recognized just how precious the river was.