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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Passing Time without power

So one of the great things about being without power for 72+ hours (unless you speak with the contents of my fridge) was that it was a great time to bone up on sparrow identification at my bird feeders.  It was like my own personal TV. I could spend time watching the birds come to the feeder and see if I could identify them (I had my field guide at the ready because if you have been following us, you know that I am only an amateur in the world of bird identification).   These two visitors are common, but ones that may make a beginning birder scratch their head, so I thought I would introduce them. 
The Top photo is a White-throated sparrow. They are a pretty common bird to see at your feeder in the winter months.  In addition to the fairly evident white throat (in this picture), the other identifying features of the White-throated sparrow are the yellow "lores", *A lore is the space between the eye and the base of the bill on a bird*, gray breast, and the gray bill.    They still sing in their winter range, and the mnemonic is either: O-sweet-canada-canada or Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody.
The bottom photo is of a Song Sparrow.  This sparrow is a year round resident of Chester County, and is one of our most common sparrows.   The heavy streaking on the breast with the dark center breast spot is one of the most distinguishing identification features.  They have a comparatively long tail, and show a thick malar or mustache stripe.  They are not as vocal throughout the winter, and their song varies greatly by region.  Our song sparrow has a different variety on its song than a song sparrow found in another region of the country.  The song begins with a abrupt notes and ends with a trill.

I think one of the fun things about having a bird feeder is learning to identify birds, and as I've noted many times before, you can attract and provide good nutrition to birds in your yard without a bird feeder using the correct plants.  That being said, a bird feeder can be a wonderful additional source of food during cold snaps (like the one that we have had last ALL winter) and help us learn more about our feathered friends in the process! Want to know what to plant in your yard?   Our Landscape Visionaries team can help!

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