Welcome Snow Birds! The American Tree Sparrow
The winter birds have arrived, and my cat is in heaven. You can find him, for most of the day, crouched low in front of the window, tail twitching back and forth. He is intently watching a lovely collection of winter birds at our feeder. He’s not the only one. Our toddler stands at the window pointing and yelling “BIR BIR!” (I’m sure the cat appreciates the noise while he plots his futile attacks.)
And that brings me, after a long absence, to species of the week!
I got a bit lazy there, and Ontario winters limit opportunities for plant species identification. I will probably try my hand at some evergreens one of these days (which I’ve always wanted to know, but never really learned). Meanwhile, we have a plethora of feathered friends just waiting to be discovered at our back window.
Today we have an American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)
(Picture courtesy of Paul. You can tell by the quality.)
The American Tree Sparrow is a small, chubby bird with a reddish head, brown streaks on the back, white bands on the wings and typically a dark smudge in the centre of the breast. The upper part of its beak is dark, while the bottom part is yellow.
This pretty little sparrow winters in southern Canada. Typically it makes its home much further north in the tundra. It’s amusing to me that a bird would migrate south, only to land here (I’ve been feeling the cold today!)
American Tree Sparrows like weedy fields or marshes and are frequent guests at winter feeders. They will beat at tall weeds with their wings and then eat the fallen seeds. They like to forage and even nest on the ground.
You can hear his pretty little song here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_tree_sparrow/sounds
My husband and I debated about this one for some time. I was convinced it was something else, until he found better pictures online and we found out about the dark smudge on the breast and the half-yellow beak. I surrendered.
The American Tree Sparrow is often confused for the Chipping Sparrow. They look very similar, but can be easily distinguished by the fact that the chipping sparrow doesn’t like the cold and leaves in winter!
As always, if you are a bird expert, and I am completely wrong, please let me know!
Here are some related pictures and links:
Posted on November 27, 2013, in Species of the week, Uncategorized and tagged American Tree Sparrow, bird feeder, bird identification, birds, canada, cats, ontario, ornithology, snow birds, swallows. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.