Thursday, October 09, 2008


During October, the prairie finally fades at an accelerating pace. Trace hints of summer’s showy splendor remain, but melancholy browns and subdued tones slowly overtake the fields. While there’s a certain kind of sadness carried by this seasonal transition, birds bearing similar drabness begin to fill the prairie and the seed smorgasbord begins - sparrows from the north are hungry after flying through the night. The transition is essential.

Like this Lincoln's Sparrow, thousands of birds refuel at the prairie during the month of October. By the end of November, American Tree Sparrows will be dominant and spend the entire winter subsisting on grassland seeds. As for the others, they’ll spend a few days fattening up for their next leg of migration. When the winds are right, they'll seize the opportunity and move on. From a distance, drab sparrows are "little brown jobs," but give them a closer look and their true elegance is revealed:

All images © 2008 Mike McDowell

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