The calendar indicates that summer has arrived, even though the temperatures are very moderate. So before the heat of summer is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to look back on spring. For me, it was the spring of the sparrow.
Migrating sparrows graced my yard from late March through the end of May including a sparrow new to my yard, my "regular" nesting sparrows, and good-sized groups of migrating sparrows.
The Song Sparrow was the first sparrow species through the yard on March 28th, while the snow and cold temperatures were still around. They do nest in New York, though these were passing through - they were last seen in my yard April 17th.
Fox Sparrows were next, arriving April 9. This was just a few days later than in 2007. They were busy ground foragers, especially in the underbrush on the wooded side of the house. They were here in good numbers (up to seven at one time) through April 20th. This is the biggest group of Fox Sparrows that I've had at any one time.
White-throated Sparrows appeared April 12, a full eleven days earlier than in 2007. They were around in good numbers (up to nine at a time - again, more than I've ever seen in my yard before) and steadily until May 11th. They have one of the most recognizable birdsongs, though the translation is open for debate. Do you say "Oh Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" or "Oh, Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada"? Me? With Canada our neighbor to the north, I prefer Sweet Canada. Besides, I love their national anthem. But I digress....
Chipping Sparrows returned April 15, a week earlier than in 2007. Chippers did not always nest in my yard, but they and their young are now welcomed as regular summer residents. Though seen here enjoying a seed cylinder, I spread lots of WBU Deluxe Blend (with white millet) on the ground for the chippers, juncos, and all my visiting sparrows.
I always watch very closely in early April hoping to see BOTH an American Tree Sparrow and a Chipping Sparrow in my yard at the same time. But these two sparrows seem to time their arrivals and departures so you never see them both at the same time! The last American Tree Sparrow I saw was in the snow on April 3.
White-crowned Sparrows passed through on May 7, feeding under the feeders and using the birdbath for a one-day visit only. White-crowns don't nest in New York; 2 out of every 3 of them nest in the boreal forest. It's easy to at-a-glance pass a white-crowned off as a white-throated. But a little more attention to the details pays off with this handsome bird. White-crowned Sparrows were new to my yard in 2004 and now visit every migration. Makes me wonder if I just wasn't paying close enough attention before.
After it seemed that sparrow migration was all wrapped up, I had a couple stragglers pass through on May 21. A White-throated Sparrow and a White-crowned Sparrow stopped by for a one day visit on their way to their breeding grounds.
So all that's left are the Chipping Sparrows, busy nesting in the area. Before you know it, summer will be wrapping up and the next wave of sparrows will pass through, but this time with many youngsters among them. I'm looking forward to it!