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Jan 22, 2011

At the feeders...

American Tree Sparrow photos by BarrytheBirder
There were 34 American Tree Sparrows at the feeders, at one time, today.   That ties them with the Juncos for 3rd place, so far this winter (go to Jan. 18th blog entry below to see the list).   I took the tree sparrow pictures (above) to show it from different angles, for anyone interested in learning how to identify it.   Of course, the dark 'stick-pin' spot in the middle of its breast is its single most identifiable feature.   Spot that and you've got the ID made.   None of our other sparrows have that.   They're one of the first of our winter birds  to head north in early spring.   The spring breeding grounds for tree sparrows, after wintering in this part of Ontario, are James Bay and Hudson Bay.   Despite the name tree sparrow, they prefer to stay close to the ground.   Bird researchers, Erica Dunn and Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, in their 1999 book Birds at Your Feeder, describe American Tree Sparrows as "bad-weather birds" that usually ignore feeders unless the weather turns severely cold or stormy.   I, for one, have had a  bunch since before Christmas that shows up every day to do battle with the goldfinches, juncos, chickadees, et al, for the buckets of seed I put out.   I'd miss them terribly if they headed out for the fields around the village of King City. 

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder
for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden,
and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance
than I should have been by any epaulette I could have worn.
Henry David Thoreau ~ Walden (1854) 'Winter Animals'
Please comment if you wish.

1 comment:

Bigwom said...

I like the quote!