Thursday, October 30, 2008

Late October Song Sparrow



As Song Sparrow portraiture goes, this one is nearly perfect. Dirt common and relatively easy to photograph, they're nevertheless handsome birds with a very charming song. After a few days of comparative inactivity, I was somewhat surprised to find a variety of sparrows along a stretch of habitat at Pheasant Branch yesterday. In addition to Song Sparrows, there were several White-throated, White-crowned, Fox, Swamp, Lincoln's, a single Field Sparrow, many American Tree Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Juncos. Were they fresh migrants? Perhaps they were already nearby but spread out and colder temperatures caused them to congregate near a rich source of food. The mixed flocks are fun to watch – I keep expecting to find a Harris's Sparrow among them. The juncos and the tree sparrows are here for the winter. Some of the Song Sparrows will stay, too, but the others will likely leave the prairie soon and head further south.

Song Sparrow migration is actually pretty interesting. According to Birds of North America:

"In e. North America, birds breeding farthest north more likely to migrate, and those wintering farthest south most likely to have migrated from far north; suggests birds from high latitudes 'leap-frog' over midlatitude residents and short-distance migrants (Davis and Arcese 1999)."

I wonder what the story is for this particular little bird?

Song Sparrow © 2008 Mike McDowell

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