Sparrows

Fog has socked us in for the past three days the first days visibility was 50 feet today three days later it has been 150 yards. Fog is interesting it completely shrouds us in this grey cloud hanging to the ground; it is silent. It stifles the sound as it seems like it should, there is no wind. I have been in fog when the wind was blowing but it was once when I was young in my home state of Minnesota.

But anyways the Sparrows were out searching for seeds and battling with one another.

Identifying birds is not my strong point especially when the species (Sparrows) has so many different members. I’ve heard it said the best way to learn the identity of them is to make lots of mistakes then be corrected. I believe that, apparently I have not made nearly enough yet. As I was sitting in the fog this morning the levee was full of Sparrows, I took a few photos of them which I will post in this blog, some others are a bit older. I’m going to give my best shot at identifying the picture above as a White-crowned Sparrow. There are several that look like it or at least share some of the traits.

There are 12 genera of Sparrows in North America, 5 have 3 or more species. The tuft of plumage on top of the head throws me off, I do not know what species is in the image above. I have learned not to guess because normally a reader knows. We’ve all seen them flocking no matter where one lives, the only continent they do not occupy is Antartica. They are very adaptive, flexible birds rapidly acclimating to whatever environment they are in.

They are often spotted in parking lots as they have discovered the radiators of the vehicles are filled with bugs. Readily taking advantage of the easy pickings they have adopted the lots as a source of food.

There are many variations in their plumage as depicted in the photo above of a Red Crowned Sparrow. From my observance they are not singled out of the flock to be picked on as Chickens will do with an outlier. I have seen them single out smaller birds, chasing them from the best stash of seeds.

I have discovered when feeding them they don’t require a bird feeder spreading the seed on the ground satisfies them just fine. They do need a means of escape however, to feed them in an open space exposes them to attacks from predatory birds. The small aptly named Sparrow Hawk is a major danger. They are fast, accurate and deadly, I have seen them dive bomb an unsuspecting victim snatching it quicker than the eye can follow. A blast of feathers is all I see when it takes place.

It’s best to feed them under a nearby tree as it guards them from being attacked from overhead as well as being shielded from the side the tree is on. Watching one direction improves their chance of survival if a predator makes an attempt. As with most species of animal there is safety in numbers hence the large flocks. Sparrows are interesting to watch but they are often ignored due to being everywhere in large numbers. As with all things familiar we have a tendency to take them for granted.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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