Monday, November 28, 2011

Bird Profile: White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Some folks say it sounds like "Oh sweet Canada-canada", others say "Old Sam Peabody Peabody". Once you've heard it, you probably wont forget the song of the White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis. In Western North Carolina, they start showing up in the hedges and thickets in early- to mid-November and they fill the cold misty mornings with their wonderous wavering whistle. While most songbirds typically sing only in the breeding season (spring/summer), White-throated Sparrows sing in their winter territories as well.

This large sparrow has large black and white stripes on its head and a yellow patch of feathers above the eye, an area also called the lores. They have, as their name suggests, a bright white throat. Their belly is light gray and their backs and tails are brown. Their bill is gray. They are easily confused with the White-crowned Sparrow, which also has black and white stripes on its head, but does not have the yellow lores or the white throat patch, and their bills are orange or pink instead of gray.

Cool Fact:
Sometimes White-throated Sparrows mate with Dark-eyed Juncos, another kind of sparrow that is not even in the same genus. Their sterile young have darker gray plumage than regular White-throated Sparrows and they have the white outer tail feathers of the Dark-eyed Junco.

For more information on White-throated Sparrows, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

All information taken from

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