Strong and steady winds kept sparrows fairly low in the sticks and vegetation over the weekend. Thursday night's cold front and northwest winds brought millions of sparrows down from Canada. I remember how amazed I was when I first learned that the majority of songbirds migrate during the nighttime hours. I realized there were nocturnal birds like owls, nightjars, etc, but songbirds flying beneath a canopy of stars captivated my imagination. Like other birders, I've tried to picture in my mind what it would be like to be up there with them.
Early Friday morning at Pheasant Branch prairie there were newly arrived White-crowned Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, and Dark-eyed Juncos. Protected from the wind on the eastern slope of the drumlin, I observed dozens of Field Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and Chipping Sparrows, perched together in the young oaks. I strongly suspect these concentrated birds were migrants because their numbers were higher than the prairie's breeding season population of these species.
There were also White-throated Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, and Fox Sparrows. Though the Lincoln's Sparrows were relatively quiet with their little cricket-like buzz calls, White-throated Sparrows and Fox Sparrows were occasionally bursting into to full song. The Fox Sparrow's melodious tune is one of the sweetest birdsongs I know. Hearing their cheerful sweeping notes emanating from scrubby edges was a highlight of my morning walk.
All images © 2011 Mike McDowell