Virtually every morning I go out to fill the bird feeders in my backyard before I leave for work, and I have been hearing White-Crowned and White-Throated Sparrows singing for weeks, but I never see them. Looking out the windows I am used to see them foraging around on the ground, but this has not happened. So yesterday afternoon, which was absolutely gorgeous and sunlit, when I went out to sit and dig up the patch of pigwort that has invaded one section of the yard, I took the camera with me, just in case.
I was rewarded with the presence of three White-Crowned Sparrows and two White-Throated Sparrows. The White-Throateds showed up first, digging around at the bottom of the compost pile and then sometimes in it. They didn’t stay very long, however.
Eventually I noticed something interesting: one White-Crowned Sparrow was nibbling on a piece of spray millet that I had just recently added to the compost bin. I realized some time last week that I have been throwing out chewed-up spray millet every day with the cage papers and waste from my indoor birds, which means it’s been going needlessly to the landfill. It never occurred to me that someone might find the uneaten portions of this delightful treat irresistible.
The other attraction seemed to be little leftover bits of shelled peanuts. The squirrels probably get the majority of them but the birds have been onto this use of the tree stump for a while. I keep hoping for crows but I’ll take White-Crowned Sparrows anytime.
In case you’re wondering what the back view of a White-Crowned Sparrow looks like, here’s one shot from under the feeder pole.
The weather is still unseasonably cool but that’s nothing for the sparrows. I’m hoping they’ll stick around maybe for another week so I can continue to hear their beautiful songs. Yesterday as I had to go back into the house to resume indoor duties, I was treated to a little late-afternoon/early evening chorus I wish I had been able to record. One White-Throated Sparrow started out singing in B-flat, then a mourning dove joined in, in the same key, and then a House Finch started carrying on with his busy song. No people noise interrupted their singing. This was likely a one-time experience I’ll have to keep in my head, but it will remind me to take the recorder with me next time.
I haven’t seen one in a few years! See, you never know what you could find in your backyard.Nice shots Lisa! 🙂
Thanks, H.J.! Funny, the migrants don’t mind having me in the yard as much as the locals. I guess you could say they’re hungry and getting down to business. Although the locals would likely not pay much attention to me if I was home and in the yard every day. Either way, nice to be able to sit there and have the birds come to me. 🙂
We are seeing a number of white crowned sparrows as well in our garden. Great shots, especially the one from the back.
I kept looking for them downtown but only had the large flocks of White-Throated. I love the jazzy little song the White-Crowneds sing. A White-Crowned from the back is still better than the underside of a warbler. 🙂
So glad to see your White-crowned Sparrow shots, Lisa! Awesome close-ups!
Thanks so much, Donna. I think they’re about gone from my yard, but I must have seen a hundred or more on the lakefront this morning!
WOW, 100! That is awesome! I’ve only see one at any given moment.
This is how I got to learn White-Crowned and White-Throated Sparrows years ago when yes, literally hundreds of them came through at a time and landed on the lakefront. So then you have to look even harder to find the occasional Lincoln’s or Clay-Colored, or even Chipping Sparrows.