A CLOSER LOOK, by Kimball Garrett

A CLOSER LOOK is a column written by Kimball Garrett that ran in the Western Tanager for a number of years.

A CLOSER LOOK, by Kimball Garrett, White-crowned Sparrow


Illustration by Kimball Garrett

Originally published in the Western Tanager Vol. 46 No. 4 December-January 1980

An abundant and familiar wintering bird through most of southern California, the White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) actually shows a rather complex distribution in the region, with each of its four local subspecies having a unique seasonal role. This month we'll work on the recognition of these subspecies, with the usual admonition that intergradation and intra-population variation render a large number of individuals unassignable to race in the field even in the most well-marked forms.


A CLOSER LOOK—Western Grebe, by Kimball Garrett

Originally published in The Western Tanager Vol. 46 No. 3 November 1979

The Western Grebe is an abundant wintering bird along the southern California coast, with small flocks remaining locally through the summer. It is also a resident locally at the Salton Sea and along the Colorado River (common at Lake Havasu). Near the coast it breeds only very locally, as at Sweetwater Reservoir near San Diego. In winter and during migration, individuals or flocks are often encountered on other deep freshwater lakes in the region. As a species, it presents no particular field problem; its clean black and white neck—very long for a grebe—and its long yellowish bill, combined with its large size, help distinguish it from other grebes. But few readers may be aware that the Western Grebe has two distinct color morphs, both of which occur in southern California. Furthermore, at least one recent author has presented evidence that these morphs may even represent distinct biological species. Below, I will briefly summarize the distinguishing features of these two types of Western Grebes, first discussing the history of their taxonomic status.


A CLOSER LOOK—Variations in Southern California Birds

By Kimball Garrett

Originally published in The Western Tanager Vol. 46 No. 10 July/August 1980

In this issue [July-August 1980], we'll take a closing look at variation in southern California's birds, and zero in with a strigid analysis of one of the most unique creatures in the region—the birdwatcher.