APRIL # 14 Song Sparrows

They sings a stuttering, clattering song:
“Maids, maids, maids, put on your tea-kettle”
is the way Thoreau described it.
Medium and bulky, red-brown and slaty gray,
they flit through low branches; their flight
short and fluttering, with a downward
pumping of the tail.  Look for them
in open habitat, marsh edges, overgrown
fields, backyards, desert washes, forest
edges.  Cats and cowbirds find their soft nests 
of speckled eggs or raw hatchlings
tucked away in long grasses.  

Unlike Savannah Sparrows, they have
no yellow tinge between the eyes. Unlike
Lincoln’s Sparrows, they have
pale eyestripes and their streaks
are not crisp.  Unlike Vesper
Sparrows, they do not have white eye-
rings, or small rufous patches at the wing bend

Males sing  often, perching around eye level on exposed branches.
Females hide quietly, 
their black eyes sometimes
glitter between leaves or blades of grass.

Watch for Song Sparrows moving along
wetland edges, ducking into dense, low
vegetation after short bursts
of that distinctive, tail-pumping flight.

They bring the spring with them.  They sit
in bare shrubs along roadsides
or on the finials on porch railings
or on last year’s beanpoles
and toss their heads back and sing and sing.

~mostly found in and edited from the Cornell Ornithology website.  Italics are mine.

The prompt was “more specific than a sparrow.”


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