sparrow

Category Archives for // sparrow
September 12, 2017

Then They Go And Change Their Plumage

The poet, Ogden Nash, humorously wrote about how difficult it is to identify birds in his poem “Up From The Egg.” He mentions that even after finally being able to identify a bird it changes its plumage writing…”then it goes and changes its plumage, which plunges you back to ignorant ‘gloomage’…”  This is true but what he doesn’t say is that juvenile birds take weeks, months and sometimes even a year to molt to adult plumage. I have shown in

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July 5, 2017

Nesting Season

Since the majority of Chico is a prairie, most of the breeding birds here are species that nest on or close to the ground. Lark Sparrow, a brightly colored bird and a loud singer, by necessity becomes secretive after eggs have been laid. Here is the completed nest and four well hidden eggs of a Lark Sparrow out in the dry wash of Black Squirrel Creek. The eggs are not brightly colored, but perfectly camouflage with a broken color pattern.

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July 5, 2017

Grasshopper Sparrow

All habitats have grasshoppers.  Native grasslands have the most grasshopper species and they become food for all grassland birds. It is not surprising then that one bird species is name Grasshopper Sparrow. This species is an uncommon breeder on the Chico but they are found in the northeastern most Chico grasslands. All members of the Ammodramus genus are secretive but during the breeding season they can often be seen perched high on a grass stem singing. Grasshopper Sparrow has a

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May 11, 2017

One Of Our Dullest Sparrows

The dull sparrow named for John Cassin, a Philadelphia ornithologist,  is far more often heard than seen.  That is until breeding season when males sing from either a song perch like a cholla cactus or by skylarking.  When skylarking these sparrows are easy to see as they flutter their wings as they drift towards the ground trying to attract a mate. Although described as a dull sparrow, a closer examination proves the opposite to be true, the beauty subtle, not

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April 29, 2017

Our Largest Sparrow

Closely related to the common wintering White-crowned Sparrow, the largest sparrow in North America, Harris’s Sparrow, was feeding on the ground next to the Leather Shop, feeding with other Zonotrichia sparrows.  This uncommon species is molting, the black feathers of a breeding bird beginning to appear. This bird breeds in dense willows above treeline in the northernmost reaches of arctic Canada. Its closest relatives are White-crowned Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow.

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June 15, 2016

Skylarking Sparrow

When two Cassin’s Sparrows are in close proximity, one of them often launches into a territorial skylarking flight to claim his territory.  Named for a Philadelphia ornithologist, John Cassin, this sparrow is a breeder on short-grass plains as long as there are song perches such as cholla cactus.  Formerly a common breeding species on the Chico, it almost disappeared during the drought years but seems to be doing very well this year with the denser grasses due to rainfall. Its

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January 24, 2016

Winter Sparrows

American Tree Sparrows are poorly named because they aren’t found in trees, more often the weeds next to trees, and they breed on arctic tundra far from trees and winter mostly on the plains in weedy habitats.  Beginning birders are often intimidated by sparrows, they all look  the same, but American Tree Sparrow has a distinctive bicolored bill, a rufous crown, wings, and back, and the clear breast with a central spot or “stick pin” makes I.D. fairly easy.  They

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