White-throated Sparrow


This summer, I spent some time on the deck of our cottage photographing birds. I wanted to expand my repertoire.  Go beyond wild flowers, my usual subject. This was a lot of fun. There were many birds. There was no need to go out. I just let the birds come to me.  So I sat on my deck and waited.

I got a good look at a White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). It stood on our deck and railing chewing seeds that had fallen from the feeder above it. These are common but delightful birds. I think sparrows are under appreciated birds. They often have a subtle but distinct beauty.

Quite a few years ago I attended a wildlife festival with my friend Eugene Reimer, in Baudette Minnesota. We were both enthralled with a birding expert who lectured us and led us on an early morning birding expedition by boat on the Rainy River. Her name was Laura Erickson. In her wonderful book For the Birds, she had some fascinating things to say about the White Throated sparrow.

“White-throated Sparrows average about 1,525 feathers in October and well over 2,500 in February. “Feather light” isn’t an exaggeration. This huge number of body feathers makes up less than 10 percent of the white-throat’s total one ounce weight.”


She had a marvellous sense of humour. She claimed, and though this rather hard to believe,

“The North Woods ring with the song of “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody. Once white-throats cross our northern border, they change their tune, to “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.”[

Do you believe that? Though I was sceptical of what she said, she helped me appreciate these gems of the forest.

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