Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Melospiza melodia’

Some experienced birders can identify a bird by its call, but, except with a few common birds, I am not one of the them. I need to be able to see a bird to identify it, and that is a challenge at this time of the year, when most of the leaves are still on the trees.

Last week as I was exploring a trail at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I heard a bird singing almost directly in front of me. As my eyes searched among the leaves, the bird kept on singing and eventually I located it. I could see that it was a sparrow and often that is an identification problem for me, because sparrows fall into the group of little brown birds that all basically look the same. However, in this case, I could see a dark spot on the breast of the bird, which usually means that it is a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia).

I was happy to be able to capture a few shots of the little Song Sparrow before it flew away. If you are curious about the sound of the Song Sparrow’s song, check out this page on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, where there are several audio and video clips of this birds songs and calls.

 

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Even when the weather is bad and other birds are hunkered down, sparrows are invariably active. Most of the time they are at ground level, but occasionally one will perch a bit higher off of the ground and give me a chance to get a decent shot.

That was the case this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, when a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) took a break and posed for me briefly on the end of a log. I liked the composition when I took the shot and decided to post it without any cropping. I also couldn’t help noticing as I was working on the image that the sparrow’s colors are almost a perfect match for those in the background.

Sparrows are really special to me too because both on my parents loved His Eye Is On The Sparrow, a hymn that reminds us that God cares for each one of us. That is a message I think we all can use right now, at a time when so many of us are stressed out over the situation in our respective countries and in the world in general.

Song Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Are sparrows cute? Normally I don’t think of them as “cute,” but this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) that I spotted hopping around earlier this week at Huntley Meadows Park was simply adorable.

I really like the simple white background provided by the snow and the organic shapes and texture of the small stumps that were sticking out of the frozen waters of the pond. Those simple elements add interest to the images without detracting from the main subject, the cute little sparrow.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

How do birds manage to survive when it is so cold outside? I asked myself that question early yesterday morning as I walked along the exposed boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. The wind was blowing hard and the temperature was about 20 degrees F (minus 7 degrees C).

The landscape was empty and desolate and seemed to have little to offer as potential sources of food. Suddenly I noticed a small group of sparrows.  They would fly to a spot together and then individually forage among the dried out plants, including those sticking out of the ice. After a short period of frenetic activity, they would move on to another spot.

Initially, I knelt and tried to get some shots of the sparrows that were standing on the ice and reaching up into the vegetation. A bit later, I was able to capture some images of a sparrow perched on some plants in a more exposed position.

I am not really sure what kind of sparrows these are. Earlier in the day I saw some sparrows that I could identify as White-throated Sparrows, but these birds seem to have a different set of markings. After looking at my guidebooks, I have concluded that these may be Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) and would welcome comments from more experienced birders on the identification, especially if I have misidentified the birds.

How do these little birds survive during the winter? From what I can see, they do their part by working hard as they forage for food and God provides for their needs.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

When you are walking or driving around, looking for subjects to photograph, which ones will actually cause you to stop, grab your camera, and take some shots? Does it take an impressive and relatively rare subject like the bald eagle that I featured in yesterday’s posting? Would you stop to photograph a sparrow?

Over the past few years, I’ve read a lot of blog postings and seen some amazing photos, but I must confess that only a few of them have made such an impression that I remember their content. In a memorable posting in July 2013, Lyle Krahn, an amazing photographer and thought-provoking blogger, put forward a concept called “stopping power. Here’s an extract from that posting:

“I think every beautiful scene has stopping power. That’s my term for the ability of a scene to make a person stop hiking or driving in order to pull out a camera and make images. Did you ever wonder what makes you stop? Do you ever hear the music?”

I hear the music almost all of the time and the threshold for my “stopping power” is really low—almost any sound or color or movement is enough to cause me to stop when I have my camera with me.

Do I really need more shots of sparrows? Last week, I spent some time watching and photographing this sparrow, which I think is probably a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), as it pecked about in the shallow water at my local marsh. The light was coming in from the side and I had to wait and wait for the bird to lift its head to a position where it would not be in the shadows.

In the end, I got a couple of shots that I really like, images that show some of the beautiful details of this little sparrow, a bird that has “stopping power” for me.

Be sure to check out Lyle’s website, Krahnpix, for some incredible wildlife shots that are guaranteed to stop you in your tracks. His quirky humor and provocative prose will both entertain you and prompt you to think a little more critically about your photography and maybe even your life.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

At this time of the year especially, I can usually depend on seeing ducks, geese, and sparrows at my local marsh—other birds may or may not be present, but these three species are my constant companions. The ducks and the geese are often loud and occasionally obnoxious, but when the sparrows sing, it’s generally a more melodious song. The ducks and geese will often fly away when I approach, but the sparrows will just take a hop or two and continue to forage for food.

I take lots of photos of sparrows. They are usually within range and have a surprising amount of personality. Yesterday, on a cold and windy day, I captured this image of what I think is a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia). The light was pretty good and the sparrow cooperated by lifting its head without turning, resulting in a pleasant little portrait of this pretty little bird.

CORRECTION: A number of more experience bird watchers have noted that this is a Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana), not a Song Sparrow. Sorry for any confusion—this is not the first time I have misidentified a species, and certainly not the last.

sparrow_shadow_28Feb

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Sometimes the birds play games with me as I try to photograph them—usually it is “hide and seek.” This little Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia), though, seemed to be playing “peekaboo,” as the bird would hide its head and then pop up and look at me, as if to announce, “Here I am.”

peekaboo1_blogpeekaboo2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »