A little towhee time before warbler season

Photo by Chris Bosak An eastern towhee perches on a branch in New England, April 25, 2019.

My foot was feeling up for a short, relatively non-taxing walk yesterday (Thursday) so I grabbed a walking stick and hit a trail. The aching foot enhanced the walk in one fashion as it made me slow down and take in all the sights and sounds of the spring New England woods. Too often when I walk I’m rushing to a destination or point of interest (pond or open field) and don’t take the time to fully absorb all that is around me. Not that I’m hoping the foot keeps hurting, but that was the silver lining in this latest bout of tendonitis.

It was still a bit early for a big warbler count — blue-winged and black-and-white were the only warbler species I found — but eastern towhees were numerous. I’ll expand on the eastern towhee in an upcoming post, but this large sparrow is one of my favorites. The calls and songs of the towhee filled the edge of the woods and I noticed several pairs, which bodes well for a strong breeding season (hopefully.) Above is the male eastern towhee and below is the female. The female is duller in color, but still a striking bird.

Photo by Chris Bosak A female eastern towhee perches on a branch in New England, April 25, 2019.
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More fox sparrow/snow photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A fox sparrow perches on the snow in Danbury, Conn., Nov. 16, 2018.
As an addendum to my last post, here are some more photos of the fox sparrows that are visiting my yard today following a snow and ice storm.  Later today or tomorrow, I’ll add some photos of the goldfinches that are visiting today. There are lots of them. 
Photo by Chris Bosak A fox sparrow perches on the snow in Danbury, Conn., Nov. 16, 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak A fox sparrow and junco eat sunflower seeds following an ice storm in Danbury, Conn., Nov. 16, 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak A fox sparrow perches on the snow in Danbury, Conn., Nov. 16, 2018.

First snow brings fox sparrows

Photo by Chris Bosak A fox sparrow eats sunflower seeds from the ground during an ice storm in Danbury, Conn., Nov. 16, 2018.

Southern New England got its first snow of the season on Thursday evening, a bit earlier than usual on Nov. 15. At some point overnight, the snow gave way to a snow/freezing rain mixture. The four or five inches of snow that fell now has a hard layer of ice on top. 

The harsh weather brought in a pair of unexpected, but welcomed, visitors: fox sparrows. The large sparrows, which are also a bit more colorful than the usual sparrows in New England, show up sporadically throughout the region, mostly during the winter. With strange weather gripping the region, keep an eye out for unexpected visitors at your feeder stations. Let me know what you see by commenting on this post.

Song sparrow: Always a willing subject

Photo by Chris Bosak A song sparrow perches on a branch at Happy Landings in Brookfield, CT, spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A song sparrow perches on a branch at Happy Landings in Brookfield, CT, spring 2017.

Just like waders (herons and egrets) are good subjects for beginning nature photographers because of their size, abundance and relative approachability, the song sparrow is a good subject for photographers taking that next step into this highly addictive hobby.

Obviously they don’t have the size of waders, presenting more of a challenge to the photographer, but they are abundant and typically make their presence known when they are around. They are quite vocal and curious, often taking a perch near you when you walk through their habitat, which is typically shrubby areas near woods.

They aren’t the most colorful birds out there, but they are handsomely decorated with a variety muted tones.

To identify the song sparrow, look for the spot on the chest. (Not to be confused with the smaller chest spot on the tree sparrow.)

 

Chipping Sparrow with crest raised

Photo by Chris Bosak A Chipping Sparrow raises its crest while standing on a log in Danbury, Conn., summer2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Chipping Sparrow raises its crest while standing on a log in Danbury, Conn., summer2016.

Here are a few more leftover photos from 2016. I like these photos because they show an interesting bird behavior.

My new home in the woods is popular among Chipping Sparrows. They are very common in the immediate area, much to my delight. They visit my feeders and hang out among my trees.

Sometimes, however, one gets agitated about something or another. Maybe my cat got out and was around; maybe Blue Jays or crows were around; maybe it knew I was close by with a camera. Whatever the reason, this guy or girl wasn’t happy at the moment.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Chipping Sparrow raises its crest while standing on a log in Danbury, Conn., summer2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Chipping Sparrow raises its crest while standing on a log in Danbury, Conn., summer2016.

Feeders are back up

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A Chipping Sparrow eats from a acbirdfeeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Chipping Sparrow eats from a a bird feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

When the nights first start to feel just a bit like the fall, I start filling the feeders again. This year that happened to fall on Labor Day Weekend. I hope everyone had a good holiday. The bad news is that summer is almost over. The good news is that fall is next. It’s a great season for birdwatching. (Aren’t they all, though?)

One of my first visitors to the feeders was this Chipping Sparrow. It’s a cute little sparrow and VERY common around my neighborhood. It’s always good to see the birds back at the feeders again.

Chipping Sparrow visits homemade feeder

Photo by Chris Bosak A Chipping Sparrow visits a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Chipping Sparrow visits a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

With all the talk of warblers lately it’s easy to overlook the other birds visiting us this time of year. One such non-warbler that has been around in large numbers is the Chipping Sparrow. It’s a handsome, small sparrow and nests throughout New England. It will visit feeders to eat seeds. I’ve had at least four visiting regularly over the last week or so.

The above photo shows a Chipping Sparrow visiting one of the platform birdfeeders I made in the backyard.

Enjoy the spring migration and let me know what you’re seeing out there.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Chipping Sparrow visits a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Chipping Sparrow visits a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Chipping Sparrow visits a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Chipping Sparrow visits a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.