During a ninety minute visit around the property, I observed four different sparrow species and my Merlin bird ID app identified the vocalizations of two additional sparrows, for a grand total of six sparrow in under two hours!
Here are some of those cuties!
They’re baa-aack! I love these little birds. I get so accustomed to seeing them during the winter months that I miss them when they are up north during the summer breeding season. The adults have black and white atop their head, hence the name. The markings are most pronounced when they tip their head downwards. Some people say they appear to be wearing a bicycle helmet. I also see many juveniles which have brown markings on their heads, which can be very confusing, since they look like a completely different species. Fortunately for me, these birds like to hang out together, so it’s easier to recognize the juveniles as White-crowned sparrows, regardless of their coloring.
Another winter resident, I don’t see many of these handsome birds. I knew they had been around for a few days because I heard their calls. But, they stick around in the branches and thickets, rather than coming out into the open. At least that’s my experience. This one just gave a few seconds to snap one good shot, before it flew off.
This species is a year-round resident. I get to observe them in winter when they may pick at seeds on the ground under a feeder, and in summer when they advertise their position well representing their name – singing!
Another year-round resident, this is a species in steep decline. AllAboutBird.org claims that, “Between 1966 and 2019, the North American Breeding Bird Survey shows a decline of over 2% per year, for a cumulative decline of approximately 69%.” I’m very grateful that they can make a living here at our farm-gone-wild.
Curiously, over the course of three days, I observed a Song Sparrow with a Field Sparrow in the same tree or shrub. Photo below – Field Sparrow is left lower, and Song Sparrow is upper right.
The fifth and sixth sparrows I noted on the same day were the Swamp Sparrow and the American Tree Sparrow. I actually saw the Swamp Sparrow, but it flitted away before I could get a photo. The Tree Sparrow was identified by the Merlin App alone. I have, however, observed this species here both around the pond (which is where Merlin “heard” it), and when it came to a feeder in the outrageous cold of the Polar Vortex last February.
Both these species spend their winters in our area. Per AllAboutBirds.org: “The American Tree Sparrow is included in the list of Common Birds in Steep Decline for species that are still too numerous or widely distributed to warrant Watch-List status but have been experiencing troubling long-term declines.”
Here’s a screen shot of the app capturing the Swamp and Am Tree Sparrow vocalizations.
Sparrow, sparrow, sparrow, sparrow, sparrow… when I first began observing the birds on our property I never realized there were so many different species of sparrows. If you visit my Birds In Our Backyard page of this blog, you’ll see sixteen (yes 16!) different sparrow species that I’ve filmed, or identified through audio. That’s a lot of sparrows! They are all unique and special in their own way. I’m happy to share them with you.