Friday, June 1, 2012

The Sparrows of April

A Field Sparrow, a common resident of the prairies in Black Hawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL, 4/3/2012.
With Song Sparrows and House Sparrows staying year-round in our area , Rockford, IL, and the early arrivals of Chipping Sparrows, April brings in a new arsenal of Sparrows, some that are travelling through, and some that will spend the summer months here. Among the latter, Field Sparrows (Above & Below) arrived in early April this year with their unmistakable accelerating series of clean whistles.
Another Field Sparrow, Black Hawk Springs FP; 4/21/2012.
White-throated Sparrow, Espenscheid Forest Preserve; 4/21/2012.
For the third straight year, I have had a flock of about a half dozen to a dozen White-throated Sparrows (Above) visit our back yard feeders. They usually arrive in the 3rd week of April, but this year were a week early.  I love listening to their "Sam Peabody, peabody, peabody" song. They usually hang around for two weeks before they head North.
Swamp Sparrow, Nygren Wetlands, Rockton, IL; 4/5/2012.
Swamp Sparrows (Above & Below) were the next to arrive to Northern Illinois.

Swamp Sparrow?  Black Hawk Springs FP, Cherry Valley, IL; 4/21/2012.
I sometimes get wishhy-washy with my identification of these two Sparrows. The Swamp has less defined streaks on its breast and has a bit of yellow at the base of its bill. So the (Top of the 2 Above) photo fits the Swamp pretty well. In the photo (Above Bottom) this Sparrow has lacks the yellow base on its bill, but otherwise looks just like the Swamp. At first I called it a Lincoln's, but am not entirely convinced. Now I am leaning towards a Swamp. The photo (Below) is definitely a Lincoln as evidenced by its buffy breast and flanks.
Lincoln Sparrow, Nygren Wetlands; 5/12/2012.
Vesper Sparrow, Blue-Fish Bay, MN 8-12-11
The next species of Sparrows to arrive to Northern Illinois were the Vesper Sparrows (Above) and the Savannah Sparrows (Below)
Savannah Sparrow, Deer Run Forest Preserve, Cherry Valley, IL; 4/22/2012.
So April is a good month to find Sparrows coming to Northern Illinois. A few Species that I missed this year are Fox Sparrows (I did see one in January) and Clay-coloreds. May will bring even a few more Species: Lark, Harris, and White-crowned Sparrows. Then thre are the few species that live here that I have yet to see: Henslows and Grasshoppers, and those that migrate through that I have never seen: Le Contes and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows. Maybe next year.

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