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Posts Tagged ‘sparrow’

It was really frosty yesterday morning in the back area of Huntley Meadows Park where I spotted this Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana). I was standing in a mostly dried-up marshy area and noted that a series of little birds would stop at a little patch of vegetation in the middle as they pecked about in the cattails and denser vegetation at the tree lines on either side of me.

I parked myself with my monopod far enough away from the vegetation that I hoped that I would not disturb the birds and eventually the birds began to return to the area on which I was focused. There were a lot of small branches that kept misleading my auto-focus, so I switched to manual focus and waited. I could see birds pretty frequently, but most remained partially hidden down low near the ground.

Eventually my patience was rewarded and I got these two shots of a little sparrow.  I wasn’t sure what kind of sparrow it was, but got some assistance on-line and learned that it was a Swamp Sparrow.

The background looks a little unusual in terms of the coloration, but it is a pretty good reflection of what I was seeing. That is also the reason why I was willing to plant myself in one spot—generally I like to keep moving as I look for photo opportunities.

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s so easy to overlook the ever-present, drab-colored sparrows when searching for birds to photograph. This past weekend, though, I stopped and watched one as it pecked away in the mud at Huntley Meadows Park, my favorite local marshland park. By slowing down and looking more closely, I was able to marvel in the beauty and industrious persistence of this little bird, which I believe is a Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana).

Slowing down and looking more closely—that’s probably a lesson I could probabl apply to more areas of my life than just photography.

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I often think of this little bird as the “Santa bird,” because of its white “beard” and round belly. Technically speaking, it’s a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), but it’s often more fun to make up my own names for the creatures that I see and photograph.

White-throated Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I used to think that all sparrows were simply nondescript little brown birds. Now I look more closely and can see how beautiful and distinctive they really are, like this White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) that I spotted last week at Huntley Meadows Park.

I especially love the bright yellow stripe on its face (in an area technically called its “lore”) that really stands out amid the other, more subdued colors.

White-throated Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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.

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Early this morning, it was really cold and windy and most of the birds and animals showed great common sense in staying in sheltered spots. This little sparrow, however, seemed to be having a good time hopping, skipping, and skating across the frozen pond.

sparrow

solitude2_blog

sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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A lot of scratching and movement was taking place down deep in the cattails and I stopped and waited, hoping to see what birds were responsible for the commotion. Finally, one of them popped to the surface and it looked to be a White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) and I smiled.

Sparrows have a very special place in my heart, because they remind me of my deceased parents. When I was growing up, one of their favorite hymns at church was “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” The hymn has a simple, Scripture-based message that we should not be discouraged, because the same God who watches over the sparrows in the field cares even more for us.

Now, whenever I see sparrows, I smile as I am filled with memories of my parents, and the words of the chorus of the hymn play again in my mind, “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me.”

If you have never heard this song, there are many versions of it on YouTube, including, versions by such noted artists as Whitney Houston. Sandi Patty’s rendition is close to the version that I remember in the small Baptist churches of my childhood.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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