My sparrow fest

So it seems like ever other bird blogger has gotten out to digiscope the sparrow migration and today was finally my day. I got some OK pictures but there always seemed to be something obstructing part of my subject.


Lincoln’s Sparrow

I managed to come across several Lincoln’s Sparrows and one cooperatively perched about 30 ft away long enough to snap a few photos. These delicate sparrows are one of my favorite. According to some, Lincoln’s Sparrows affinity for dense shrubby areas, secretive nature and boreal breeding habitat make it one of the most elusive of N. American birds.


White-crowned Sparrow- adult

White-crowned Sparrows made a major push into the area following the cold front that just passed. Both striking adults and buffy juveniles were pretty common and generally easy to digiscope.


White-crowned Sparrow- juvenile


White-throated Sparrow- tan-stripe morph

According to Birds of N. America Online, there are two different color morphs of White-throated Sparrows during the breeding season. Tan-striped birds like the one above generally provide more parental care while white-striped birds, pictured below, are more aggressive, territorial and likely to mate more than once (extra-pair copulations). The interesting thing is that each morph nearly always mates with its opposite. Tan-striped males tend to mate with white-striped females and white-striped males look for tan-striped females to mate with.

White-throated Sparrow- white-stripe morph

Ammon, Elisabeth M.. 1995 . Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/beta/species/191

Falls, J. B., and J. G. Kopachena. 1994 . White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/beta/species/128

Clay-colored Sparrow

I saw my 2nd state bird in as many days yesterday. Although its not very common in PA, Clay-colored Sparrows are findable in several parts of the state. They breed in some limited areas in the western part of the state and are sometimes seen in migration elsewhere.

This bird is coming to a feeder in Lancaster County and is the same bird the presumably frequented the same yard last summer. When I arrived I was greeted by the buzzy bzz bzz bzz bzz that is so characteristic of the Clay-colored Sparrows song.

It will be interesting to see if this bird continues to hang around for the summer and maybe finds a mate. Now I am off to training for my summer job doing point count surveys for the 2nd PA Breeding Bird Atlas.