Thursday, December 27, 2012

American Tree Sparrow - St. John's CBC

Yesterday dawned as the best day we have had in quite awhile.  The crazy winds had subsided and the temperature hovered around 1 degree Celsius. It was a perfect morning for a bird count and a good walk to offset the holiday feasts.

I covered quite an area without any real notables, pretty much what I expected. All areas I travelled were relatively "birdy," which certainly held my interest. When I finished checking my assigned areas, I decided to check out a few typically-busy feeders.

The parking area in Caledonia Place was buzzing with birds, as usual. I sat in my car and was attempting to count the House Sparrows that were tucked away in a distant shrub. While looking intently, I was surprised to see a different sparrow pop up on the fence. I knew it was a new one for me, but I didn't get a very good look before it flew into a distant tree. I managed to get out of my car and get the first picture shown above. Pitiful! Nevertheless, I had something to show for what I saw.

 I watched it fly low into a shrub in another backyard. I couldn't seem to relocate it.  When I checked my picture, I really didn't think it was going to provide much help in getting an identification. My best guess was a Chipping Sparrow. I knew the bird was quite rufous and had a white wing bar. That was the best I could do to describe it.
I knew it was time to call in the troops while the bird was still in the area. I made a quick call to Bruce Mactavish, Jared Clarke and Ken Knowles.  I hoped they would be able to relocate and identify it.

Within five minutes they arrived, and in less than five minutes, they re-found the bird. Without hesitation, they identified it as an American Tree Sparrow. Wow! A "Life" bird!
Peering through a tangle of branches, I got my first look at the sparrow. Bruce pointed out the smudge on the breast and the two-toned beak. While I couldn't really see the beak in the field, I was very surprised by how distinct the colors on the beak showed up on the pictures.

Toward the end of my day, this was a great, unexpected surprise. It still constantly amazes me to continue to find birds I haven't seen before.  During the CBC, John Wells and Chris Brown found a Townsend Warbler. That would be a new one for me, too. As soon as day breaks, I am going to head out in the hope of relocating it. "The year ain't over till it's over!"

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I have a close up image of an American Tree Sparrow in my Google+ bird album if you want to check him out. :)