The Melodic Song Sparrow

by John Briggs on April 8, 2011

in Bird Photographs, Birding Videos, Blog, Maine Birds

Song Sparrow – Melospiza melodia

From nearly every prominence on the vegetation that grows in our backyard, a Song Sparrow is singing. The glorious sounds of Spring and the hope that ol’ man Winter doesn’t have any more tricks up his sleeve.

Song Sparrows have the greatest number of genetically distinct populations of any bird in North America. There’s much debate on the total number of subspecies, but a recent study suggests there are perhaps as many as 34.

Song Sparrows are noted for scratching the ground with its feet to expose invertebrates hidden under surface litter. They forage primarily on ground, picking food from the ground or at bases of bushes. These birds also search the mud or shallow water along streams and I have seen them on the mudflats during low tide.

A Song Sparrow apparently has an inborn tendency to sing songs of two general types, but it learns its phrases by listening to other, nearby Song Sparrows. As a result, the songs of different birds in a local population contain similar notes and phrases (but usually arranged differently), while the songs of birds in separated populations contain different phrases. The farther away two populations are, the less likely they are to use similar phrases in their songs.

The following photos and video was taken in our backyard.

The following photos were taken with a Canon 7D and a Canon 400mm f/4 L IS lens. Simply click a thumbnail below for a full-sized view. ©2011 John Briggs Photography

Dimension: 560×480 | Length: 26 sec. | File Size: 10.6mb
Playback: Click Play Button | Broadband Connection Recommended
Video: Song Sparrow Singing | ©2011 John Briggs Photography

Happy birding!

 

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