The splendid White-throated Sparrow

Photo by Chris Bosak A White-throated Sparrow perches on a branch in Stamford, Conn., March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A White-throated Sparrow perches on a branch in Stamford, Conn., March 2015.

There are few annual birding moments as striking as seeing your spring’s first male White-throated Sparrow in all his breeding-plumage glory. The white shines, the yellow pops, the browns mix together in perfect harmony. You even notice a few colors you never knew this sparrow had before.

Well, I had that moment last week while watching some feeders in Stamford, Conn.. The House Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows (another looker) and even some White-throated Sparrows (mostly female) jockeyed around the feeders. Then this handsome fellow flew into the scene. He was a show-stopper as far as I was concerned. “If only he’d jump off the ground and take a perch more conducive to getting a good photo,” I thought to myself.

Then, of course, he did. He jumped up to a large stick jutting straight up into the air. Many times birds take those perfect perches and take off two seconds later before you can get the camera ready for the shot(s). Boy that’s frustrating when that happens. But his guy kept that perch in front of me for a good 12-15 seconds — an eternity in bird photography terms. Soon, most of the males will look this resplendent. I love his head and face with the white, black, gray and yellow. Who would have thought all that beauty in a sparrow?

A sunny, cold winter’s day for a birdwatcher

Photo by Chris Bosak A junco looks for seeds on a dried up plant at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., in Jan. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A junco looks for seeds on a dried up plant at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., in Jan. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak An American Robin perches on a rock at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., in Jan. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American Robin perches on a rock at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., in Jan. 2015.

I dropped off my third-grader at school and faced a decision heading out of the parking lot: Take a left to the beach and see what birds might be there; or take a right and basically start my work day earlier than I have to.

Of course I took the left. It’s a good thing, too, because there were some pretty cool birds down at the beach. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but some good photo opps of birds such as Continue reading

Good day for Christmas Bird Count (lots of photos)

 

Photo by Chris Bosak Peregrine Falcon at Veterans Park in Norwalk, Conn., seen during the 115th Christmas Bird Count.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Peregrine Falcon at Veterans Park in Norwalk, Conn., seen during the 115th Christmas Bird Count.

The weather was actually quite nice (cold, but calm) and the birds were plentiful. A story about the Christmas Bird Count (Westport Circle) is posted on http://www.theour.com.

I personally had a good day, too, in terms of finding birds. Below are more photos from the interesting birds I found during the count. Yes, I realize the photos aren’t of great quality, but it was very overcast and the photos were taken mostly to prove what was seen. Some of the photos aren’t too bad, though. Anyway …

The highlight was the three warblers I saw at Oystershell Park in Norwalk. Even one warbler species is pretty rare for a New England Christmas Bird Count, but I had three at one location. The warblers were an Orange-crowned Warbler, Continue reading

More “colorful” sparrows

This past summer I wrote a post on this website about sparrows and, while they may not boast red, blue or green feathers, they are still beautiful and heavily decorated. The beauty, however, is more subtle — mixing browns and tans rather than vibrant hues. Sometimes you have to look closely or at a different angle, but the beauty is there. In that previous post, I included a photo of a Song Sparrow. Here’s the link in case you missed it or want to see it again.

So now I offer this Swamp Sparrow as further proof. I saw this sparrow at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford (Ct.) earlier this fall, so it’s not even in its breeding plumage. I have seen Swamp Sparrows on their breeding grounds while camping in northern New Hampshire and they are strikingly plumaged. Their fall plumage, as you can see here, is not too bad either.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Swamp Sparrow perches on a branch at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary, fall 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Swamp Sparrow perches on a branch at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary, fall 2014.

 

“Colorful” sparrows can brighten a day

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A Song Sparrow seen in Selleck's/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Song Sparrow seen in Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., March 2014.

When we think of sparrows, the word “colorful” likely does not come to mind. In fact, many people refer to them collectively simply as LBJs (little brown jobs).

But if you look closely enough, a world of beauty can be found in the plumage of sparrows. We see Song Sparrows almost every day and, indeed, from a distance they do look like a boring old brown bird. When the light catches that plumage, though, an endless variety of browns and tans come together to make a striking bird. Sure, browns and tans are not necessarily colorful in the obvious sense (reds, blues, purples) but it’s a more subtle beauty.

So subtle in fact that it often takes time to appreciate. When I had artist Catherine Hamilton on my Birds Calls Radio program a few years ago, she talked about how much she liked to work with sparrows. The answer surprised me because I was expecting her to say a more colorful bird such as a cardinal or Wood Duck. I understood where she was coming from, but wasn’t completely sold on the whole beautiful sparrow thing. Then, somewhere along the line, I started to look more closely at the sparrow photographs I took. Sure enough, I discovered what Catherine was talking about. The brown birds are not simply brown. You can’t grad a brown crayon from a box and color in a sparrow. You would need fist fulls of different browns and need to change crayons frequently to capture the true essence of a sparrow.

Also, when we think of sparrows the House Sparrow is often the first one that comes to mind. House Sparrows have a beauty of their own (I guess), but I’m referring more to the native New England sparrows such as Song Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and Swamp Sparrow.

Despite my relatively new appreciation for sparrows I still have to catch myself. I still sometimes see a sparrow and immediately gloss over it and look for the next bird. Then I quickly come back to the sparrow and appreciate its subtle markings. I’m always glad I did.

So what’s your favorite sparrow of those listed below? I know “I like them all” would be most people’s answer, so I’m not even going to include that in the options. Take a stand for your favorite sparrow.