July 21, 2015 – Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)
Requested by: Marjorie “Slim” Woodruff
Found throughout North America, these sparrows breed in Canada and the northwestern United States and winter mostly in the southern and eastern United States. There are four main varieties, “Red,” found in northern North America, “Sooty,” along the Pacific Coast, “Slate-colored,” in the mountains of the Interior West, and “Thick-billed,” in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Foraging on the ground, they eat insects, as well as seeds, fruits, and buds from a variety of plants. Like many other sparrows and towhees they “double-scratch,” hopping forward and back quickly, to find their prey. They nest on or near the ground, using various plant materials, lichens, fur, feathers and sometimes fishing line.
February 15, 2015 – Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
These sparrows are found in desert areas of the southwestern United States and Mexico. They eat insects, seeds, and fruits, relying more on plant foods in the winter and insects in the summer. They are able to survive without drinking water for long periods, getting enough moisture from the insects and seeds they eat, except during the hottest times of year. Males defend large territories during the breeding season until the females begin incubation of the eggs, when they become less territorial. Both parents feed the chicks.
November 24, 2014 – Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Requested by: theinfinitemonkeytheorem
Found throughout North America, these grayish sparrows have several regional color variations. Although there are 15 different forms, the two most well-known are the “slate-colored” from the eastern U.S. and Canada, and the “Oregon” junco from the West. Spending much of their time on the ground, they primarily eat seeds, as well as insects during the breeding season. Many are migratory, but some are found year-round in parts of the western U.S. and the Appalachian Mountains. Resident birds tend to have shorter wings than migrants.
November 4, 2014 – White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
Found in Canada during the summer, these sparrows winter in the eastern and southern United States, as well as in western California. They eat seeds, fruits, other plant materials, and insects. Females build nests on or near the ground. There are white-crowned and tan-crowned varieties and each bird tends to prefer a mate of the other type. White-throated Sparrows sometimes hybridize with Dark-eyed Juncos.
September 29, 2014 – Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys)
Requested by: La Rita
These sparrows are found in the Great Plains of the United States as well as in parts of Canada and Mexico. They eat insects, seeds, and occasionally fruits. Lark Buntings nest on the ground, using grasses to build a cup-shaped nest, usually near a tree or bush. The males lose their bold black and white plumage outside of the breeding season and look similar to the females with darker throats and patterning. They are the state bird of Colorado.
April 5, 2014 – Saxaul Sparrow (Passer ammodendri)
Requested by: greatnorthernloon
This bird lives in desert regions of Central Asia, often in areas with saxaul shrubs or near water. It eats mostly seeds and some insects and may fly long distances daily to find water. It nests in tree cavities, rocky slopes, buildings or other man-made structures, and even on the nests of birds of prey. There are three subspecies with slightly different coloration and patterning.