Friday, October 31, 2008

October Ends


American Tree Sparrow

We've reached the end of another beautiful October. Through winter, I'll probably carry my digiscoping gear less often when I go birding at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I love fall, but its spectacular color and birds pass on too soon. October is one of my most productive photography and digiscoping months for several key reasons:

  • Fewer people on trails reduce disruptions.
  • The mosquito population decreases to nil.
  • Less air turbulence translates to sharper images.
  • Decreasing foliage offers more open perches.
  • Available subjects (namely sparrows) are fairly cooperative.

I enjoy watching and photographing sparrows almost as much as I do showy spring warblers and other neotropical migrants. I think a knack for identifying sparrows is accelerated through photographing them; a systematic process of collecting different sparrow species images. Skilled bird identification takes a lot of time and patience, but if you dedicate yourself to diligent study, you'll even be able to identify them by call note and flight. From the low bouncy-bounce of the Song Sparrow, to the finch-like zippiness of tree sparrows, each has elements of uniqueness to their flight that can be used to help identify them.



American Tree Sparrow © 2008 Mike McDowell

2 comments:

  1. please explain why you identified this as an american tree sparrow when it does not have the "stick pin" that is shown to be the key identifying mark?

    i wonder only because I have photos of a sparrow which looks EXACTLY like this. Down to the same style shrub!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi v money,

    The spot isn't always visible, especially in a profile angle. The photographs above are, indeed, American Tree Sparrows. The bi-colored bill, copper eye-stripe and crown, plus time of year, are all used to help ID. Do you have a photograph of your sparrow that you can share?

    Mike M.

    ReplyDelete