Monday, 27 April 2015

B.O.T.D. White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
The white-throated sparrow's song may not be the most glorious of sparrow melodies, but it is probably the best known simply because more people hear it. Although white-throats nest chiefly across the rural expanses of Canada, they winter through much of the eastern and southern United States - and they sing all winter long. They sometimes seem to be singing absentmindedly, it's true, but from March into May, when the last migrants leave, white-throats sing with real energy and purpose.

Their song is a simple one, often imitated by birders, and a passable rendition of it will bring the birds flitting through bushes in curious interest, craning their necks and peering about with bright eyes to discover the new arrival with the strange accent. White-throats and other small birds can also be called by "squeaking" - a sound make by a person kissing the back of his hand. Because the sounds are like those of a baby bird in distress, this kind of calling works especially well during the nesting season: parents come flocking, and birders have a chance to see species they might otherwise miss. But, understandably enough, squeaking also upsets the birds and can disrupt the care of their fledglings. Needless to say, therefore, it is a technique to be used with restraint and common sense.

Reader's Digest: Book of North American Birds