Photo by BarrytheBirder
It's now November and the 40 or so Juncos in the backyard can't seem to get the one male White-throated Sparrow, who shares their seeds, to move on. In fact, he may not move any further south. For many years, the northern limit of White-throated Sparrows, in winter, has been the north shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. I'm located just north of Toronto and I put out birdseed faithfully, all winter long, so this fellow may hang around. Most birdwatchers know that White-throated Sparrows come in two flavours: their head stripes being either white or tan. The one pictured above has tan stripes. What I didn't know, until I opened Kenn Kaufman's 1996 book, Lives of North American Birds, was that the two colour morphs of White-throated Sparrows almost always mate with their opposite colour morph. In other words, the white-striped male will usually mate with a tan-striped female, while the tan-striped male will mate with a white-striped female. The different colour mixtures produce some slightly different behaviours also. Kaufman notes that this bird is common and widespread, but adds that surveys suggest slight declines in total numbers during recent decades.
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