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Monday, April 09, 2007

More Sparrows

Another Fox Sparrow at our feeder

Fox Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco

Yesterday we mentioned we had 4 Fox Sparrows at the feeders. Let's face it, sparrows are not the easiest birds to identify. All their subtle brown coloring often earns them the name, "LBJ's" (no, that is not a reference to the 36th President of the United States, it means "little brown jobs"). The Fox Sparrows that visit our feeders are a little easier to ID because they are of the very red subspecies, so their foxy color gives them away. They're quite a bit larger than the other sparrows at our feeders, so they stand out. Look at the size difference between the Fox Sparrow and the Junco!

Song Sparrow

More subtle are the Song Sparrows. We're keeping about 6 of them happy with the seed mixture we're supplying. They're very streaked brown with a brown streaked crown that has a grayish central crown streak. The central breast dot (looks like a congregation of dots) stands out.

Tree Sparrow

But don't think you can just tell a Song Sparrow by its breast dot alone, it ain't that easy. Other sparrows also have dots. At our feeders now, are some lovely little Tree Sparrows. Here's one waiting a turn at the feeders. These little cuties have a rusty red crown, a gray face with a rusty eye line and plain gray breast with a central dot. So try and look more closely at your feeders and see who's there. Let us know if you have any Fox Sparrows.

And my job today, besides blogging about "LBJs", is to keep and eye on Phoebe, our Corgi, who was just spayed and who is lounging next to me, her head lolling off the counch. She's supposed to be kept quite and to leave her stitches alone, which, of course, she's not doing. That's why she has that funny bandage thing around her. It's really a piece of tee shirt around her middle. It keeps her from nibbling the stitches and she seems to like it. When we went to pick her up from the vet's they said she'd been as good as gold and hadn't bothered her stitches at all. We thought we'd have no problem. The minute we got home, she wanted to reach down there and nibble. If only we could explain to her that she'll heal soon and the stitches will be out. I think she may know that and appreciates my support and hanging out with her. She's such a sweetie.


Anonymous said...

I like your sparrow pictures. It seems like I'm the only member of our local bird club with no Fox Sparrows yet... just lots of juncos hanging around. Maybe they know something about the continuing cold weather and aren't quite ready to head north!

A trio of Purple Finches has been visiting, though, providing an opportunity to observe how different they are from our "regular" House Finches. As with the sparrows, it's much easier to identify them when you can see them side by side.

Anonymous said...

Thanks much for the sparrow ID info. I had 3 fox sparrows in Jaffrey all weekend. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

This unusually cold spring makes for an interesting mix of species, Chipping and Fox with Juncos, Song and Swamp with American Tree. I do wish the Fox Sparrows would visit my feeders. Hugs for Phoebe, I hope she is back to her usual enthusiastic self very soon !

Jayne said...

Thanks so much for the sparrow ID primer... those LBJ's are the hardest thing for me! Here's hoping Phoebe recovers quickly and is back to her bouncing self very soon. :c)

Anonymous said...

We have at least 5 Fox Sparrows at our feeder - plus Song Sparrows and the Tree Sparrow.
The past week we have had both male and female Yellow-Shafted Flicker at our suet feeders.

Anonymous said...

Our Fox Sparrows returned April 5th. I too noted their size difference, coloration, and behavior when I highlighted them on our website,
Song Sparrows returned earlier, around March 25th, and American Tree Sparrows are still visiting.
I read in "Birds of New York State" by Budliger/Kennedy that Fox Sparrows don't sing in migration. We have Fox Sparrows that haven't read the book - their song is wonderful.

Lillian Stokes said...

Fox Sparrows sure are beautiful early migrants. A friend of ours in NH reported them singing in his yard and The Birds Of North America monograph series (online at say that they sing in migration so keep your ears alert.
Phoebe is recovering nicely and getting more frisky each day. She will be able to run and play soon.

Anonymous said...

Great that Phoebe is doing good! I bet she will be running around quicker than expected.

dguzman said...

I've only seen one fox sparrow at my feeders, and that was back on March 18 during some snowfall. Haven't seen him back since then. I'm in Central PA.