Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sparrow Season

White-crowned Sparrow

My blog about reducing long-distance trips to observe birds apparently inspired a discussion thread on the Wisconsin Birding Network – how fascinating. But now it's time to set that aside and get back to birding as more sparrows pour into southern Wisconsin during the night - we're nearing the apex of migratory sparrow season.

This morning at Pheasant Branch I found my first White-crowned Sparrow of fall – a beautiful adult. I was birding with Sylvia and she thought she had heard it singing before we saw it, but I missed the song because I was concentrating on wren chatter from just behind us. Turning around, we were treated with an extremely close-up look at a Sedge Wren perched in thicket just a few feet close we could see it blinking even without binoculars.

Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow

By now Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows should be at Nine Springs, arguably one of the most beautiful sparrows anywhere. I doubt I'll ever best the photographs of them as I was able to get last fall, so I'm not even sure I'll try. Dottie and Sylvia have never seen a sharp-tailed sparrow, so we're thinking about taking a trip there this weekend to try and find them. It can be very tricky. Nine Springs is often crawling with Song and Swamp Sparrows. Every LBJ (little brown job) that shoots out from the vegetation deserves a look through binoculars...just to be sure. Scanning and landing on a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow is an annual superlative experience I have seldom missed.

Swamp Sparrow

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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