About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Sparrow Spotted at the Feeder

Hello Sarah, I’ve been watching my feeders for new birds like you suggested and I think I see one. It’s another little brown bird but it has yellow dots on its head and crisp white feathers under the chin. Sue~Lansing, MI

White-throated Sparrow

Oh very good. I was excited to see this bird on
Sunday also! It's the one bird I watch for to tell me when the weather is about to turn; the White-throated Sparrow.

They show up in mid-Michigan right after the last frost in the spring and right before the first snow in the fall. They can be spotted hanging around for a couple weeks before they continue to their wintering grounds in the eastern states below Michigan and in small numbers in southwestern states.

The White-throated Sparrow is medium sized sparrow with brown streaked upper parts, plain gray underparts, and has a conspicuous white throat and yellow lores above the eyes between black-and-white or black-and-tan stripes on the head.

White-throated like to scratch on the ground with a series of quick kicks when they feed and remind me of chickens. These birds follow a well-defined hierarchy, which puts males ahead of females and older sparrows ahead of younger sparrows. The oldest male birds are the ones that sing the most. They are known to migrate at night and begin their flights around sunset. Some research studies suggest they use star patterns as one means of navigation.
Adult White-crowned SparrowImage via Wikipedia
White-crowned Sparrow 
Thank you for the update on the new bird in your yard. Be on the look-out for the White-crowned Sparrows too. They usually migrate around the same time as the White-throated. Their visits to feeders tend to be early and late in the day. Like most sparrows, they enjoy millet and also will eat sunflower seeds.

You may hear the birds before you see them. I always think White-throated Sparrows have a song that sounds like a chickadee yodeling. Birders describe their song as "poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" and the White-crowned Sparrow says "poor-wet-wetter-chee-zee".

That's the bird alright. I'm reading all about it in my field guide. Thank you for the links to the birds' songs. I'll keep my ears open as well as my eyes when I take my walks in the morning! You're a fabulous resource!! Thx, Sue
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