Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) 18 December 2011. Cascade Ranch, Pescadero, SM, CA Photo © 2011 Joseph Morlan
This species breeds in Boreal regions of North America and winters south to Middle America and occurs as a vagrant to the Caribbean. This rather shy bird winters fairly commonly in our area where it prefers wet weedy fields. However its shy habits make it more elusive compared to the similar and more familiar Song Sparrow. Lincoln's Sparrows are more finely patterned on the back and have a distinctive buffy coloration across the breast. It is also smaller than the resident Song Sparrows and has a shorter tail.
Three subspecies have been recognized. They differ slightly in size and color but I'm not sure how to tell them apart in the field away from their breeding grounds.
Digiscoped with Panasonic DMC-LZ5 | Nikon FieldScope III | 30XWA | hand-held (no adapter)