Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sparrows Return!

White-throated Sparrow

The first White-throated Sparrows of fall migration have reached Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Some of these beautiful sparrows will remain at the conservancy throughout winter, but most will continue traveling south. By mid-October, the prairie will be teeming with migratory sparrows that have come to our neighborhoods from the northernmost parts of the boreal forest of Canada.

Clay-colored Sparrow

Most likely a summer resident, I adore the buffy coloration of Clay-colored Sparrows in basic plumage. Though they belong to the genus spizella, in this particular molt I find them nearly as striking as members of ammodrammus, such as Nelson's or Le Conte's Sparrow. They're a fairly curious bird and make excellent photography subjects. On the other hand, you have to be pretty quick to get a picture of the far less gregarious Lincoln's Sparrow.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Right now the prairie is filled with various goldenrods, asters, and many other late summer wildflowers. It's a beautiful time of year; not just for the nature photographer, but for anyone who desires a walk in Nature's exquisite parade of colors. It's worth our while to get outside and enjoy this temporal scenery. Not only does time spent in nature help improve our overall wellness, it also helps boost our cognition. Really! Check out Richard Louv's reasons why children and adults need Nature.

Showy Goldenrod

Katydid on Showy Goldenrod

Smooth Aster

Smooth Aster

"I am not always in sympathy with nature-study as pursued in the schools, as if this kingdom could be carried by assault. Such study is too cold, too special, too mechanical; it is likely to rub the bloom off Nature. It lacks soul and emotion; it misses the accessories of the open air and its exhilarations, the sky, the clouds, the landscape, and the currents of life that pulse everywhere."

John BurroughsThe Gospel of Nature

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Sep 20, 2011 7:00 AM - 12:00 PM
55 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch

All images © 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. Beautiful images as always Mike.
    Lynda in Michigan.

  2. Gorgeous flowering plants. The sparrows always seem to arrive with the first bit of cooler weather.