First-of-Season Winter Sparrows

Posted: November 7th, 2009 under Activities, Wildlife.
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Forgot to mention yesterday that though I had heard a White-crowned Sparrow call in the yard a few days ago, I hadn’t spotted one until yesterday evening, up in the dry woods.  I came into the south end of the dry woods trail and startled some White-winged doves, who flapped off with their usual noisy behavior, but one smaller bird just hopped to the top of a cactus and sat there.

white-crowned_sparrow198It was a White-crowned Sparrow, and as I moved slowly closer the rest of its flock came out to look at me–about 15-20 of them.    This photo is from a few years ago–I didn’t get one yesterday, but this bird is very near to where I saw the birds yesterday.

So our winter visitor sparrows will be coming in over the next few weeks, if they’re not already hiding out somewhere in the brush.   I think I’ve also heard a White-throated and maybe a Lincoln’s, but nary a sight of them so far.    We get about eight species of winter-resident sparrows every year, some preferring the creek woods , some the dry woods and a few the grassland.

It’s time to start the winter supplemental feeding.  Our bird population at least triples in winter, and they all arrive hungry.   Since we were in an extreme drought situation until September’s rains, the local summer-resident and year-round wildlife have already eaten up all the native food sources (no dried grapes left on the vines, no prickly-pear fruit on the cactus) and only some of the grasses have produced fresh seed since then.   Depending on usage and apparent local food supply, I’ll be supplementing at least until the winter residents leave and spring migration is past…the last couple of years we’ve also supplemented (with a different mix of feeds) through the nesting and fledging season as well.

It usually takes them a week or two to settle in and make their routines of watering and feeding so I can predict which will be where when.


  • Comment by AJLR — November 7, 2009 @ 1:32 pm


    What pretty little birds, no wonder you were out looking for them. Sparrows here (and we only have two species) have been in decline for the last 20 years, particularly in cities. Lovely to hear you have so many of them coming to you.

  • Comment by Caryn — November 8, 2009 @ 1:38 am


    Gorgeous pictures, Elizabeth, and it’s grand to see the land after rain. I love watching grasses sway in the wind, so these pictures show the sheer variety of grasses: far more than I have noticed in a single location.

    Thank you for all this.

  • Comment by elizabeth — November 8, 2009 @ 2:35 am


    AJLR: I have pictures of other sparrows up on my LJ scrapbook, in the bird gallery: this page should have the sparrows–

    Caryn: I find the smaller grasses really hard to photograph well…I tried to get the red grama and curly mesquite seedheads the other day but everything was blurry–they’re just so tiny and they move so easily in the wind. We’re lucky in having so many species now…but I don’t have images of all of them yet.

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