Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bird a Day: Song Sparrow

I'm getting low on bird pictures so today I present you with the commonest of the common birds, the Song Sparrow.  These little sparrows are here year round and they are everywhere.  Go in your backyard and there will be one singing from the bushes.  Take a walk in the park and you're bound to hear several.  Going on a arctic vacation this summer?  You'll hear them there too.  In fact it is tough to find a place you won't hear Song Sparrows, here is a list of just some of the habitats they can be found in: tidal marshes,desert scrub, pinyon pine forests, aspen parklands, prairie shelterbelts, Pacific rain forest, chaparral, agricultural fields, overgrown pastures, freshwater marsh and lake edges, forest edges, and suburbs.  Quite an extensive list for sure!  But just because they are common doesn't mean they are uninteresting.  Did you know that a single male can have 20 different songs he will sing along with over 1000 improvised variations?  Young males learn the songs of other males nearby and quietly sing to themselves to get their tune just right before they perform for females in the spring.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows have highly variable plumage across their range.  The eastern form which is in our area has a gray face, gray back with brown streaking, and a streaky back.  They are one of a handful of sparrow species with a dark central chest spot.  They also have a dark "mustache" on the side of the face that can be used to differentiate them from other sparrows.


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