Saturday, January 26, 2008

Have I blogged about these guys before?

This pissed-off looking character is a White-throated Sparrow. Isn't the picture a hoot? Reminds me of the famous "mad bluebird" you see in every birder catalog. A blogger curtsy goes to photographer Steve Listengart, who could have made a few bucks licensing it instead of generously releasing it at Wikipedia.

White-throated Sparrows, along with the look-alike White-crowned Sparrows, are winter visitors here, and even though they fall squarely into the Little Brown Bird category, I always enjoy seeing them at my feeders. I know winter's here for sure when they arrive, and it's (blessedly) gone when they disappear. They seem to be especially plentiful this year. I ran across a sizable group of them in the park this morning, flitting around inside a pile of brush next to the trail. I've never seen them mob up quite that way, so I stopped and watched a while. They seemed to be doing more socializing than feeding, and they sang a bit. You can hear their pretty voices at their Cornell Lab page.

I also found this tidbit at the Cornell page, which shows that even LBBs are fashion conscious when choosing a mate:

"The two color forms of the White-throated Sparrow are determined by genetic differences, and are unique among birds. Oddly, individuals almost always mate with a bird of the opposite morph. Males of both color types prefer females with white stripes, but both kinds of females prefer tan-striped males. White-striped birds are more aggressive than tan-striped ones, and white-striped females may be able to outcompete their tan-striped sisters for tan-striped males."

The bird geek in me finds that fascinating. They also sometimes mate with Juncos, which just seems bizarre. Makes me wish I lived where I could see that, but they pass a chaste season here.

1 comment:

chayaruchama said...

I never fail to glow, when I glance at critters, and featherlings.