It was just yesterday morning when I began to wonder when the Savannah and Swamp Sparrows would return to the Avalon. I really didn't expect to see one of them before the day was out. Yesterday morning dawned with sunshine, low winds and rising temperatures, absolutely perfect conditions for birding.
A quick drive out the Cape Spear netted few birds but plenty of people who, too, were enjoying the holiday and great conditions. A look around the community of Blackhead only turned up a flock of juncos. On the drive back, my birding buddy and I saw plenty of Blue Jays, Juncos, a male Purple Finch and a female Pine Grosbeak. A scattering of American Robins flew by or perched atop a tree. We noticed that there were no flocks of robins, just loners appearing every now and then.
Upon return to St. John's, we decided to have a look at the Lower Rennie's River area where winter birding activity was good. When we arrived, there were plenty of juncos flitting about along with a robin and a Northern Flicker. On our return walk, we spotted the Song Sparrow that has been wintering in the area and then, there was another sparrow. It was different, but it was very hard to get a look at it.
Finally, at one point it jumped up on the feeder, and I got one picture. At the time, the lighting and limited "looks" prevented identification. It wasn't until I got home and downloaded this picture that I realized that this is a Savannah Sparrow. At the time, it was obvious that this sparrow was much lighter than the Song Sparrow, but not obvious what it was. When I enlarged the image, I found the yellowish supercilliary stripe and heavy streaking. This leaves only one more common sparrow yet to return - the Swamp Sparrow.
Unlike the many different species of warblers, there are limited species of sparrows. Maybe this is a good time to begin to learn their songs. From last year, I think I can safely say there is already a strong recollection of the distinct White-throated and Fox Sparrow songs. That narrows the learning curve a little.