Chipping Sparrow, Female Blue Grosbeak and Swainson’s Thrush

Much later in the morning, near noon, in a scrubby area of grass, weeds and wildflowers, three very different birds foraged together near the ground – a Chipping Sparrow, a female Blue Grosbeak, and a Swainson’s Thrush. They were interesting to watch, in part, because they were feeding close together, but were all so different in appearance and behavior – one small, unpretentious and focused; one flashy, animated and richly-colored; one quiet, watchful and cautious, with an air of dignity.

The Chipping Sparrow fed on the ground, eating seeds. Although its coloring was crisp and pretty, with bright red-brown cap, clean gray breast, and a black line through its eye, it kept its head mostly down, and its behavior seemed designed to avoid attention, so that it blended in with the background and might have gone unnoticed.

The female Blue Grosbeak, on the other hand, clung to the stems of tall weeds, flashing a long tail flamboyantly. Her several shades of brown and tan became a copper-brown on her head, where the feathers fluffed up in a crest.

The Swainson’s Thrush fed on the ground among the weeds, but unlike the sparrow kept its olive-gray head more up than down, with buffy spectacles giving it a wide-eyed look. With olive-gray back and wings, and dark but blurry spots on the chest, the thrush had a cool and shadowy look, even out in the noonday sun.

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