The immature Junco from the backside looks very sparrow-like, and the Genus Junco is included in the Emberizidae family which includes Sparrows. This is probably a Dark-eyed Junco and the scientific name is Junco hyemalis, with hyemalis translating to “winter”, for this is when most of these birds are seen in the U.S.
When this bird took flight, its’ outer tail feathers flashed their distinctive white. In the fall, hundreds of Juncos will line the roadsides and when a car drives by they will all fly up flashing those white tail feathers.
Now, here’s the mystery bird. I’m not sure if it’s a Tennessee Warbler, but it does have the white undertail coverts that Sibley talks about in his field guide. And the pale supercilium, that’s the white streak above the eye, would indicate a Tennessee.
The Scientific name is Vermivora peregrina, with Vermivoa meaning “worm-eating” and peregrina meaning “wandering”. Maybe we should start calling it the Peregrine Warbler! Here’s the kicker, Wilson named the bird because he had only obtained 2 specimens in his lifetime and considered it a very rare bird. Makes you wonder how many other specimens he had collected throughout his life. Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) is considered the “Father of American Ornithology” and named many of the birds we know today. The way they practised ornithology back in the olden days was with a shotgun – times have changed…
This is the Tennessee Warbler in his breeding plumage. The gray on the head changes to a yellowish green in the winter.