Now check this out. Bob Royse went up to Funk Bottoms today, to witness the pack of Le Conte's Sparrows for himself. And he took along his camera. Bob, who plays English Horn/Oboe for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, is also an accomplished bird photographer. Visit his website to see many more images like the one below.
While most of us are grappling with the vegetation and retiring habits of the bird, just managing decent looks if we're lucky, Bob gets this shot. This is probably the most striking image of Le Conte's Sparrow that I've seen. The gorgeous, intricate details of the plumage become apparent here in a way that is quite difficult to observe in the field. The somewhat whimsical shape of the bird is obvious, too; a rotund, big-headed sparrow that almost looks spherical. Look at the size of the feet; a wonderful adaptation for hopping about in soft, mucky soils. To me, the bill looks rather small on this species, suggesting perhaps a sparrow that eats more grass seeds and the fruit of plants like Water-plantain and various arrowheads, which are soft, rather than the hard bone-like achenes of smartweeds and sedges.
Thanks to Bob for managing this striking image.