We were up early yesterday (doctor) and early again today (dentist). This gave me the opportunity to get some pictures of the morning birds. I had been noticing unfamiliar birds this year. Birds I saw a lot of last year I haven’t seen at all this year … but there are birds this year I don’t recognize. They may be juveniles of birds I only know as mature birds, but I spent a lot of time going through the bird book and the only birds that look like what I’m seeing are rather rare birds.
With birds, the general rule is that if you see something rare, you’ve probably got the wrong bird. But whatever it is, it is some kind of sparrow.
It isn’t the Chipping Sparrow because they are quite a bit smaller than these. The only things these look like part of a group called “Grass Sparrows.” All of these birds look a lot alike. Some shade of golden brown with speckled or streaked wings. Some have a striped or speckled breast while others are solids. But all the juveniles look very much the same.
The only one of these sparrows considered “common” is the Savannah Sparrow. But there aren’t many of them in this part of the country. They do live here, but it isn’t one of their major regions. Mostly, they seem to be concentrated in the southern states.
Climate change brings changes to all of our wildlife, so it’s possible that warmer weather in the north has brought more of them into our area. The bird looks rather more like a Grasshopper Sparrow. While these do live in this region, they are uncommon — possibly even scarce.
Take a look at the picture and let me know if you recognize it. Also, there’s another solid brown-orange bird that doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before. It might be a Tennessee Warbler which can be common in this area. You’d think from its name they’d be from the south, but I sometimes am baffled by whoever named the birds. Or maybe birds just move around more than we think.
I know that between the older bird book I had from the 1980s and the new one I got last year, there’s a huge change in the location of many birds. There are also a lot fewer birds than there used to be. As we ruin our living environment, we’re killing off birds, fish, and many small mammals that were once very common.
The only things we aren’t short of are bugs — plenty of THEM — mice and rats. Even rabbits who used to sun themselves on our lawns and the chipmunks who used to chitter at us as we went into our house have vanished. The robins, following their death by Monsanto’s RoundUp weedkiller never came back either.
What a sad world it would be without the birds to sing us awake with their cheery morning calls!