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Thursday, November 09, 2006

American Tree Sparrows

American Tree Sparrow with crest raised

American Tree Sparrow

We had a birder friend over a few days ago and we took a long walk across the fields at our home "Bobolink Farm". Just as we returned, we spotted some beautiful, little American Tree Sparrows in our birch trees, the first we had seen this season.

Sometimes mistaken for a Chipping Sparrow, these delicate birds have a rusty cap like a chipping does in its summer plumage, (in winter, the chipping has black streaking through the rusty cap). Tree Sparrows have a rufous eyeline, not blackish like a Chipping Sparrow, and their telltale, central breast spot stands out at a distance.

Just seeing them, with their soft, russet colors against the late fall landscape, gave me warm feeling, like greeting a friend you only see at a certain time each year. I also love their musical tinkling call, a teedle-eet note, which reminds me of tiny sleighbells and the approaching winter. These beautiful birds breed in the far northern reaches of the continent, but winter across much of the U.S. Enjoy then while they are here.

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