Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smartweed Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow perched in smartweed.

Personally, I preferred the name "Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow" (Ammodramus nelsoni) for the elegant bird pictured above. I was fortunate to see a couple of them perched in smartweed earlier this morning at Lake Barney; it's been a few years since I last saw one at Nine Springs. The best chance to see Nelson's Sparrows in southern Wisconsin is during fall migration (from late September to mid October) when this species can be found at wetlands with large patches of smartweed. Now that the habitat at Nine Springs has become somewhat less favorable for Nelson's Sparrows, I was pleased when Steve Theissen reported finding several of these birds at Lake Barney a few days ago. I didn't hesitate on my day off today for a chance to get a glimpse of them. The beautiful arrangement of pumpkin-orange plus warm brown tones, punctuated with flashes of white on the belly and back make it one of the most spectacular of all little brown jobs!

Nelson's Sparrow © 2011 Mike McDowell