Its a lovely late winter morning....the sun is out, casting its golden rays on everything within its reach. A beautiful melody floats through the crisp morning air. As I shield my eyes from the sun, searching for the singer, a small bird on a nearby tree branch throws its head back and bursts into song. Flitting to the top of our fence, the little bird continues its thrilling melody....
Looking intently, I discern that the soloist in this beautiful morning concerto is none other than the unassumming Song Sparrow, a species that is a common feeder visitor all across the United States. Since February is National Bird Feeding Month, I thought it would be very appropriate to feature the Song Sparrow in this month's In Scope.
Did you know....
The Song Sparrow is widely distributed throughout North America. But based on their location, Song Sparrows in different regions may look very different from one another. Here in the Pacific Northwest, Song Sparrows are very dark and heavily streaked with dark rusty brown. Only in the Aleutians Islands of Alaska are Song Sparrows found to be even darker than those we have here.
The lengthening of the days are an important sign to all birds of the approaching breeding season. However, other factors also let them know when breeding season is upon them - including warmer temperatures and the abundance of food. Song Sparrows are no different...in fact, in the State of Washington, coastal Song Sparrows breed up to two months earlier than their mountain relatives all because of the warmer weather and more plentiful food sources.
Although many birds songs can be mimicked by the Mockingbird, the Song Sparrows melody is one it cannot accurately replicate.
A flock of Song Sparrows is sometimes called a 'choir' - with good reason! These songsters have some of the most beautiful calls.
Gardening For and Feeding Song Sparrows
Song Sparrows are frequent visitors to gardens, backyards and feeders. Though they're probably already in your backyard, here are some tips to help make your yard more appealing to Song Sparrows.
Among other things, the Song Sparrow loves small fruits, especially berries. Almost any berry plant will do, including...
Song Sparrows are easy to please when it comes to feeder treats. Their favorite seeds are...
Millet (white or red)
Sunflower Seeds (any kind)
The addition of a bird bath would make your yard even more pleasing for Song Sparrows. This species loves to bathe daily and fresh, clean water is a draw for any bird.
Zoom In: Species Profile
The Song Sparrow's scientific name is Melospiza
melodia. This medium
sized bird is 5 - 6 1/2 inches long. Both male and female look
alike, having rusty brown wings, back, head, neck and tail and
distinctly streaked underside on pale, creamy colored or very light
gray breast. They also have a 'stickpin' marking on their
chest ~ a prominant brown spot directly in the center of their
chest. These species contains various subspecies also called
races, so depending on where you live, the size and appearance of
your song sparrows may differ slightly from the ones in our area.
The song of the Song Sparrow is a delightful musical song comprised of some brief notes and afterward, a beautiful trill. Many people think it sounds like "Madge, madge, madge, put on your tea kettle, ettle, ettle!"
The preferred habitat of the Song Sparrow is at the edges of woodlands, in openings in the woods, thick brush, or even marshy, wet areas with lots of grass. They nest in thick brush and require some taller viewing areas for singing to claim territory or to attract a mate. The nest of the Song Sparrow is cup shaped and made out of grass. The nest is constructed in a shrub or on ground level. The female lays 3-6 very pale green or whitish eggs with dark spots. They may have up to three broods in one breeding season.
Song Sparrows are year round residents in much of the Western and Eastern United States and up into Western Canada. Accross the middle and Southern United States they are mostly winter residents. Across most of Canada, they are residents in the Spring and summer.
This month I've created a Song Sparrow coloring page for you in a free PDF. Simply click here to download, then print and enjoy !
"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout aloud to the Rock of our Salvation!"
- Psalm 95:1 NIV
"Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His Love endures forever."
- Psalm 106:1 NIV
I love Song Sparrows - they're one of my favorite garden birds. I think the reason I love them so much is because when I hear them sing, it lifts my thoughts and my heart up to the One Who created these beautiful little birds. Our God is Great and Worthy to be praised.... and the little Song Sparrow sings out His Creator's Praise every day. This seemingly ordinary, everyday little bird is an example to us to praise the Lord not just in church, or at extraordinary moments in life, but every single day. Praise the Lord!
By, Jessi Wasell