Song Sparrows in the Old Field

On a warm, sunny, spring-like morning, Pine Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Bluebird, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, House Finch and at least one Brown Thrasher all were singing. The Pine Warblers, especially, are trilling their songs almost everywhere in the neighborhood. Two Red-shouldered Hawks called kee-yer from somewhere behind the tree line in the woods, out of sight.

Under a clear, deep-blue sky, yellow daffodils bloomed in yards and even along the roadside. An orange butterfly flew by, fluttering up and away toward the woods. Three Eastern Phoebes perched in a sunny spot on the edge of a large, sprawling thicket, flying out to catch insects in the sun-warm air.

A Golden-crowned Kinglet called its high, whispery ti-ti-ti from treetops along the side of the road. The facial stripes of black and white, and the sliver of gold in its crown flashed brightly enough to see, even on such a tiny bird so high, as it very quickly but deliberately moved over the branches and needles of a pine, intensely focused. And below, in the same area, a quiet Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitted over the branches of a dense patch of privet, a little less focused, it seemed, more inclined to stop and look around, though certainly also quick and busy.

Along the edge of the old field by the highway, at least a dozen Song Sparrows emerged from the tall grasses and weeds to forage in the rough grass along the roadside. Each one seemed to work mostly in one of the clumps and windrows of dry, dead brown grass left over from mowing last fall. These clumps look pretty deep, and the sparrows pecked into them industriously and seemed to be finding food. As they foraged, the Song Sparrows’ movements were quick and twitchy, as if with nervous energy, tails switching back and forth, or up and down vigorously – this kind of movement seems characteristic of Song Sparrows, though I don’t know enough about other sparrow species to be sure it’s a reliable trait for identifying them. I most often see them here along with White-throated Sparrows, which seem more calm and deliberate in the way they move – though the White-throated Sparrows also seem more shy and quicker to flee for cover.

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