bats at halloween

One of my favorite sounds of autumn is the song of the white-throated sparrow. Some will tell you this sparrow is singing old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody. But those that know the white-throated sparrow as a summer resident of Canada will say the song is oh-sweet-Canada-Canada-Canada. Check out the link below to hear this song, and you can be the judge.

If the birds happen to not be singing, they are fairly easy to identify by the bold black and white striped head, bright white throat and yellow patches between the eye and bill. There is another form that has a tan and brown face pattern instead of the white and black. I read that birds of the white-striped form are more aggressive than the tan-striped form during breeding and nesting periods, but this does not seem to continue into their winter flocks.

White-throated sparrows are winter residents in our part of the state. They prefer forest edges, overgrown fields and places near ponds where they can find seeds of grasses and fruits such as grape, sumac and rose. These sparrows will also come to your feeder to eat black-oil sunflower seeds. During nesting and summer months, they will also eat many insects.

The North American Breeding survey shows a 35% decline in population over the entire range of this sparrow, but that decline in the US is 63%. They are still abundant and not listed on the watch list at this time.

Some may think that late fall and winter are not good times for birding, but many of our summer residents stay all winter, and others migrate here to spend the winter months in our own mild weather. So get outside with your binoculars to observe the sounds and sights of all the avian visitors.

Thanks to Larry Reis for letting us use your photos.