From Birding

Lifebird #23 – A Sweet-singing Sparrow

Species  White-throated Sparrow / Zonotrichia albicollis
Where Home
When December 2003
Who Joann
Number 23

A note in my copy Birds of Minnesota and Wisconsin tells me that I identified my first White-throated Sparrow in December of 2003 in my yard. The truth is almost certainly that they were present there sometime in late September or early October. I just wasn’t a good enough observer to know it.

White-throated SparrowWhite-throated Sparrows erupt on the scene twice a year in my neck of the woods. In spring, they pass through in large numbers moving north to their breeding grounds in (mostly) the boreal forests of Canada. In the fall they dally here for awhile on their way to warmer states to our south, and some range into Mexico. December is pretty late for this species to linger in Minnesota, but they do not seem averse to sticking around as long as food (seeds on or near the ground) is plentiful. In both the spring and fall, they arrive in migration before Dark-eyed Juncos, co-exist for awhile, and then leave before the juncos do.

These birds whistle “Oh sweet Canada Canada Canada” (or, if you prefer, “Mr Peabody Peabody Peabody”) early in the morning, and Joann and I usually hear them in the spring before we see them. It’s one of the most recognizable songs of the spring, and to my taste the prettiest song of all the sparrows. Their song isn’t heard as often in the fall, but they do sing a quieter, slower, more plaintive version of the same song on their way south.

See lifebird index.