"Large-billed" Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis rostratus), Imperial Beach, San Diego, Nov. 28, 1997. The tide was very high on our visit to look for the Belcher's Gull and we were treated to close views of this distinctive Mexican subspecies which is a rare winter visitor to the Salton Sea and coastal southern California. It has been recorded as far north as San Mateo County.

Same bird as above. Note long swollen, tanager-like bill; no yellow in the lores; strong face pattern with malar recalling Purple Finch; uniform unstreaked crown and faintly streaked back. This form virtually disappeared from California for nearly a decade during the 1980's but has since recovered and may be seen irregularly along the coast north to Morro Bay during winter high tides.

Photos copyright © 1997 by Dan Singer