In addition to stunning foliage and frosty mornings, October in New England is a time of sparrows. Last week, at a single location, I observed nine sparrow species* including a Dark-eyed Junco and Song, Swamp, Chipping, Savannah, Field, White-throated and House Sparrows. The final species and the motivation for my visit that particular morning was a Lark Sparrow.
Given their striking face pattern and white-edged tail, Lark Sparrows are fairly easy to recognize, especially if you're familiar with the more common sparrows. A feature that stood out to me was the cream-colored patch at the base of the bird's primaries (see top photo). Trickier than IDing them is finding them. Lark Sparrows are rare but regular visitors to New England, with most sightings occurring in the fall months. In this case, I was aided by a local birder, who reported the bird on an eBird checklist the previous afternoon. Prior to last week's sighting, the only Lark Sparrow I'd seen was three years ago in Wrentham, MA.
*All are members of the family Emberizidae, except for House Sparrows (in the family Passeridae).