Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

What’s that Sound? A White-throated Sparrow April 29, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 2:21 pm
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We’ve been hearing a clear, sad, whistling song in our back yards for the past few days, and the neighbors have been asking about it. There are lots of other bird sounds these days, but this one really stands out. There are several variations. One version has the first note lower than the rest, like this recording. Another has a similar melancholy quality but a bit more melody, like this recording.

The bird that sings this song is a small, brownish and grayish sparrow. It looks unremarkable from a distance but has a stunning head if you see it close through stealth or binoculars. It’s called the White-throated Sparrow:

Adult White-throated Sparrows have a white chin, black-and-white cap, and a bit of yellow in front of the eye.

Adult White-throated Sparrows have a white chin, black-and-white cap, and a bit of yellow in front of the eye.

Don’t mistake it for the similar White-crowned Sparrow, which lacks a white chin:

Adult White-crowned Sparrows have a black-and-white cap, but NO white chin and NO yellow in front of the eye. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Adult White-crowned Sparrows have a black-and-white cap, but NO white chin and NO yellow in front of the eye. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Enjoy these migrant sparrows while you can. Soon they will head north to breed.

 

Our First Fledgling Mourning Dove of 2009!

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 8:45 am
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The first fledgling Mourning Dove of the year just landed on our back fence. (A fledgling bird is one that just left the nest and is beginning to fly.)

Here's one way you can tell it's a fledgling Mourning Dove and not an adult: The outer tips of the body feathers are fringed with contrasting colors, giving it a scaled look.

Here's one way you can tell it's a fledgling Mourning Dove and not an adult: The outer tips of the feathers are fringed with contrasting colors, giving it a scaled look.

It’s a rough out there for bird families. Cats, possums, and racoons prowl the neighborhood. Blue Jays search for eggs to eat. Cowbirds try to trick other birds into raising baby cowbirds. And this year there’s a Cooper’s Hawk nest only four blocks away. So, we wish all our bird parents, and their young, the best of luck! And then we mostly stand back and watch what happens.