Saturday, June 11, 2011

Field Sparrows; April Migration to Northern Illinois

Along with the swallows that were featured in my last three posts, early April brought an abundant of new arrivals into Northern Illinois. Of these, birds that will stay and make our area their summer home are Brown-headed Cowbirds, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Meadowlarks, and several sparrows - Field, Vesper and Chipping Sparrows.

A Field Sparrow building a nest, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011.
By early April, I heard Field Sparrows (Above) singing away in the weedy/grassy fields of our local Forest Preserves and Parks, with their soft whistles starting slowly and rapidly gaining acceleration in their phrase. Their distinct song is not their only identifying trait. They have a clean light gray breast, red cap, a complete white eye-ring, orange bill, and red line extending behind its eyes (Below).

One of the earliest Field Sparrows I had seen this spring, Bauman Park, Rockford, IL; 3/30/2011.
In the summer, Field Sparrows can be found throughout most of the eastern half of the U.S. from the Great Plains to the Atlantic seaboard but not along the Gulf Coast. In winter they will migrate to the southeastern quadrant of the U.S. extending to the Gulf and slightly into Mexico.

A Field Sparrow, Balckhawk Springs Forest Preserve, 4/25/2011.
They are quite common in weedy fields where they build their nests.But they like to have bushes or trees nearby to escape to in case of danger.
A pair of Field Sparrows waitingin a tree for me to pass by,
Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve; 5/1/2011.
When threatened (i.e. when I get too close to them) they will fly to the nearest tree or bush (Above) until they feel the danger has passed.

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