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, December 29, 2009

What Bird Part II

Hi there, I have been seeing some brown birds on my feeder for a while now and I’m trying to figure out what they are. I’ve search throughout the internet and the closest I’ve found that looks like this is the chirping sparrow. Could you take a look and let me know what kind you think this is if you’re familiar with it? Thanks so much! Monroe, NC

It is indeed a Chipping Sparrow! Chipping Sparrows have distinctive breeding plumage from April to August. Michigan residents (where I live) are most likely to see solitary Chipping Sparrows running around the garden with their chestnut cap, white stripe above the eye, and a black stripe through the eye during the summer months.

In the winter the birds usually travel in small flocks in North Carolina and other southern states. The chestnut crown is more diffuse and dull, the eye line is less dark, and the overall pattern and colors are less bold.

Some distinctive marks I noticed are the white eye ring, with darkly streaked upper parts, the unstreaked breast, the extended eye line in front of the eye toward the bill, and the light brown bill.

Thank you for the photos. It made identifying the mystery bird much easier. I also noticed the seed in your feeder and I can’t help but comment. The sparrows are probably eating the millet and sunflower seed. A good blend is high in Oil Sunflower and can also have Sunflower Chips, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, or Safflower mixed together. Don't buy a blend with Milo. Milo, the larger round, reddish seed I see in your seed blend is usually just kicked out of feeders and wasted. Eventually it might be picked up by a dove but it’s usually just left to rot on the ground.

I know the blends with milo tend to be cheaper but on the East coast it’s just a waste of money to buy those blends. If you can’t find a blend without cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo just use a straight sunflower seed.

Thank you very much for your question. Keep up your close observations. Please write again with any questions.


Sharon said...

That's a beautiful picture!

Jan said...

I happened to see a chipping sparrow this morning at my feeder here in Grand Rapids. I didn't expect to see one at this time of year!

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Yikes! It's not common to see Chipping Sparrows in Michigan during the winter. Perhaps it's because we're having a mild winter in Michigan and some southern states are having a horrible winter, the birds are struggling to find a safe harbor.