October is one of my favorite months- not just because I like cooler and non-humid weather, especially after summer, but because it’s also an interesting autumn migration month.
September was the big warbler migration time; October I think of as sparrow month.
Of course October sees other migrants as well, such as waterfowl and shorebirds. But sparrows are prominent this month, and now is a good time to check out the wetlands and grasslands where they often hang out.
Not all sparrows migrate of course, but those that do migrate later than warblers; they typically eat seeds as well as insects, so they have a bigger food supply that can last into cold weather. They also tend to be chunkier birds that can take the cold better than those birds that are used to warm climates. In scientific-speak, sparrows are temperate migrants, whereas warblers are neo-tropical migrants.
Today seems like a good time for a ’round-up’ post to show the several sparrow species I’ve been looking at this month. There are a few sparrow migrants that are fairly rare that I haven’t spotted yet, but let’s face it, that’s the fun of birding- I hope I never see everything, because, well, that would be boring.
And so, here’s a peek at some of those sparrows that can be seen this month in Ohio. In future posts (someday!), we’ll take a look at individual species.
Not all of these familiar birds overwinter in Ohio- some migrate through the state. Right now I hear a lot of younger birds singing their imperfect versions of their well-known song- practice makes perfect.
This bird looks a lot like a Song Sparrow, save for the dusky areas on its upper breast and lower face. I almost missed identifying this bird, glad I take lots of pictures!
These birds head south after raising their families in Ohio’s summer. I enjoy them because they are often tamer than other sparrow species.
You may not be as familiar with these sparrows- they like to stay out on farms and country fields.
These sparrows have to be sought out as well. They prefer fields and wetlands, so get your hiking boots on if you’d like to see them.
True to their name, Swamp Sparrows are usually found in and near wetlands. Numbers-wise, Song and Swamp Sparrows have dominated the Darby Wetlands sparrow population lately.
These handsome birds often hide in thickets like this one was yesterday when I took its picture. Their clear ‘Pure Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada’ whistled songs are a great way to identify them.
This was the first Junco I’ve seen of the season, spotted 10 days ago. There’ll be plenty like him around in the upcoming winter. Only a bird that breeds in northern Canada would consider Ohio a grand winter home 😉
OK, I’m going to admit that both of the above pictures were from 2012’s autumn- I haven’t got a picture of either species yet this month. Both are migrants heading south this time of year, though.
Sparrows are interesting birds to watch, even if they are not as colorful as warblers or other species. They all have their particular mannerisms and habits. To everything there is a season, and this season is a great time to see them.