Sunday, September 29, 2013

More Sparrows!

The early morning hours at Pheasant Branch Conservancy's prairie is a splendid time for a long walk, even if you're not a birdwatcher. I love this time of year. The golden sunlight highlights the first fall accents in the prairie and trees.

If you happen to be interested in birds, they're most active the first few hours after the sun clears the horizon. With the majority of the warblers having moved on, I've set my sights on finding sparrows.

White-crowned Sparrow

The zonotrichia sparrows continue to move in. There are typically more White-throated Sparrows than White-crowned at the conservancy. I find Harris's Sparrow about one year out of three. Since I saw one last year, I'm not anticipating seeing one this fall. Still, I wouldn't mind being surprised.

Song Sparrow

This Song Sparrow is the first member of the melospiza trifecta pictured here. Their songs are amazingly complex and one of the first voices I associate with spring. Many birders tell me they have difficulty separating these three species, but look carefully at them. They're really quite different once you get to know them.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln's is one of my favorite sparrows. I love their fine plumage features and perky attitude. They can be sort of skittish and skulky, but every so often one will pop up into the open to investigate things.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrows are more diminutive in appearance as well as song, but they can still create confusion when it comes to identification. As I've mentioned before, I think what throws some birders off is when a Swamp Sparrow raises its crest, giving it an impression of Lincoln's Sparrow. With this particular individual, there is no doubt about its swampiness!

Swamp Sparrow

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

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