Monday, October 29, 2007

Sparrow's Home

This evening I went to visit a sparrow's home. As I write, the sun is well below the horizon and somewhere in the field the sparrow sleeps...I like thinking about that now. As I walked the trail, a few sentinel sparrows perched atop goldenrod and other browned prairie plants. All around their sweet calls sounded off. The fields are full of things to appreciate, absorb and photograph, but for the sparrows it's their shelter, sustenance and security.

The fields seem to belong to Common Yellowthroats during the summer breeding season. From now until early April, American Tree Sparrows will rely on them for survival. Every second of every minute, minutes and hours, for these next several months, these fields outside is where they'll be. When arctic air sends the mercury into minus digits, they will endure. The tree sparrows will be hunted by accipiters, shrikes and other predators – the injured or those suffering from failing health will be quickly taken.

Most of the other kinds of sparrows have left Pheasant Branch. There are still a few White-throated Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, but their numbers are rapidly decreasing as they head for fields of their own to the south. But behold the brave and hearty little sparrows that persist through the worst of what Wisconsin's winters can deliver. They might only be American Tree Sparrows, but they're among my favorite of all birds. I'm sure I'll be visiting again over December, January and February to check in on them.

Every so often I take a prairie souvenir home. They make great photographic subjects to adorn my blog posts with. Afterwards, I place them on my desk as to serve as a reminder and for inspiration. As it gets colder, my trips to Pheasant Branch will decrease. The outings are contemplative meditations of a sort and something I've found I really need. I'm amazed by how much I rely on the outdoors to sustain my overall sense of wellness. Last winter was tough, but I have reasons to hopeful this will be an easier one to endure.

I also wanted to extend a 'thank you' to those of you who have recently emailed me. I read every email I receive and appreciate the words, notes and feedback. Unfortunately, I don't always have time to respond and when I do I'm often a bit brief, or possibly even terse. I hope you understand. I'll keep the blog going as often as I can, and that's been my best way of communicating and sharing. The birds give to me, and I give them back to you.

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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