For the Birds: A chipping sparrow kind of year

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

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.

It’s been the year of the chipping sparrow in my yard. It started in the winter and hasn’t stopped yet.

Like most other birdwatchers, I had more than my fair share of dark-eyed juncos at my feeders this past winter. The other dominant species in winter is usually the white-throated sparrow, but this winter I didn’t see a single white-throat in the yard. I did see plenty of chipping sparrows, though.

When spring arrived, the juncos headed north to their breeding grounds and I haven’t seen one since. Chipping sparrows, on the other hand, have been a daily sighting from those snowy, winter days into spring and even early summer. I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t seen a chipping sparrow — and that’s a good thing, of course.

I have seen plenty of these tiny birds in the past, but I don’t remember seeing them in this number or frequency before. It has been a welcome revelation.

Chipping sparrows are small, handsome birds. They rank among the smallest in New England, in fact, outsizing hummingbirds and kinglets, but being comparable to warblers and juncos.

When the leaves start to fall in a few months (not that I’m rushing it), we may discover the nests used in the spring and summer by chipping sparrows. They are tiny structures built in the classic cup shape with material such as hair, mud, and straw. This year for the first time I filled a suet cage with dog hair to see if any birds would come for nesting material. The only taker I saw was a white-breasted nuthatch, but I would bet the chipping sparrows took some hair when I wasn’t looking.

Chipping sparrows are among the more vocal birds in my backyard, too. In the spring, its trilling was a daily auditory treat. Now that the babies have fledged, Continue reading

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For the Birds column: What is that bird trillling?

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in several New England newspapers.

The birds are moving through, that’s for sure.

Mornings in New England are now filled with the songs of so many birds it’s hard to separate the voices. Throw in a mockingbird imitating the songs of several birds, and the confusion ratchets up a level.

A tufted titmouse (peter, peter, peter) broke the morning silence one morning this week for me; a robin (cheery up, cheery oh, cheery up) the next morning. I love mornings filled with birdsong.

Have you heard a bird trilling recently? A long series of quick, high-pitched notes often rings out throughout New England during the spring. But what is that triller?

Continue reading

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.