The blog portion of this website includes my monthly nature column, "The Naturalist's Eye," from. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. As with most songbirds, they defend their territories mainly by singing. That superficial difference might not seem like a big deal, but it reflects a remarkable divergence in the lifestyles of these individuals. Pale plumage of fall migrating Magnolia Warbler, Fall migrating female Black-and-white Warbler, about birds' migration behavior, consult Sharon Sorenson's book, , available from the usual online sources, from your friendly local bookstore, or from Stackpole Books, an imprint of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., at. Today white-throats begin appearing as spring migrants in Pennsylvania the second or third week in March in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont areas and the third and fourth weeks in March in the rest of the state with peak numbers from the third or fourth week in April to the second week in May. Last year’s mild winter pushed their average back down to the more normal 2.2. White-throated Sparrows are uncommon to rare winter visitors in western Washington from October to April. White-throated Sparrows breed in coniferous and mixed woodlands, especially those with openings and thick undergrowth. The birds will sometimes nest a second time in a breeding season if a ground nest is predated; in that case, they may build a new nest off the ground. These sparrows migrate through, and winter in, similar edgy habitats with dense understory, including suburban yards and parks, often near water. Both variations feature dark eyes, a white throat, yellow lores and gray bill. My only time to study them is at the feeder area when they are out in the open. And it's these multiple personalites that place the White-throat at the center of mysteries scientists are still working out. For years it was assumed that tan stripes indicated a young White-throat. Thank you for your wonderful posts. The throat is still white, but dark streaks descending from each side of the bill split the white into three sections. White-throats are usually found with White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows. That may sound like a joke, but it’s actually a good description of what’s going on. They nest either on the ground under shrubs or low in trees in deciduous or mixed forest areas and lay three to five brown-marked blue or green-white eggs. Legal Notices Privacy Policy Contact Us. Thank you. Their parents continue to feed them and to defend them from predators by distraction displays such as a slow flutter-flight above the vegetation, a wing-drooping run while calling loudly, or a wings-up-walk where the parent seems to fall to one side while holding up one or both fanned wings. Their wings are brown-streaked with two white wing-bars. Pairs stay together for the summer but often choose new partners the following year. Four to five days after the young fledge, they can make short flights, and within a week they are strong flyers. White-striped females also sing, but their tan-striped counterparts usually do not. 44 Perfect Gifts for the Bird and Nature Lovers in Your Life, How the Evening Grosbeak Got Its Misleading Name. Once a rarity along the border, this ‘King Kongfisher’ has become a year-round resident. Pairs of white-striped females and tan-striped males usually form pair bonds more quickly than the reverse combination. Most populations of White-throated Sparrows are migratory, although there is some overlap of breeding and wintering ranges. Nesting pairs consist of one bird from each morph more than 95 percent of the time, but it’s especially interesting to consider what happens on those occasions when two birds of the same morph pair up. They are occasionally sighted east of the Cascades in the winter as … Post-breeding time sees European Starlings form huge flocks, indicating also how many natural cavities these non-native invasive birds have stolen from native birds, thus promoting plunging populations among many cavity-nesting native species. White-striped females, more pushy than their tan-striped sisters, grab the tan-striped bachelors right away, so these pairs form more quickly than the opposite combination. [10] It stays year round in the Atlantic provinces of Canada. The white-throated is—unlike Baird's and Worthen's—one of our more common sparrow species. As with many songbirds, White-throated Sparrows flock together in winte… Mating with the opposite morphs and using alternative reproductive strategies helps maintain competitive equilibrium. Are the Trump Administration's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last? [6][7] The aggression is because of high level of estrogen receptor alpha in white-striped birds. But White-throated Sparrows are different. Tan-striped birds have a similar head pattern, but the white is replaced with tan and the black with brown (with darker streaks). White-striped males, though, are much more aggressive than tan-striped males in these chases. White-throated Sparrows stayed long enough last spring to find spring-blooming violets to be nutritious seed supplements. On the white-striped birds, the supercilium (eyebrow) and central crown stripe are white; they are tan in tan-striped birds. They also eat fruit—sumac, blueberry, blackberry, and dogwood, to name a few—and in summer, consume large numbers of insects. Nesting on or near the ground, the White-throated Sparrow is vulnerable to cats and other predators. For example, in The Birds of Massachusetts in 1929, ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush mentioned a two-year-old banded White-throat that “had not attained full adult plumage.” He added that “Some require an extra year, or possibly even more, to assume highest plumage.” But he didn’t go so far as to suggest that some adults would never develop those white stripes. With their quadruple personalities, those little brown birds at your feeder are a lot more interesting than they might appear. ( Log Out /  Many different genes here are tightly linked to form a “supergene,” so that birds of one color morph also inherit a whole range of behaviors. In most parts of the West, the smartly patterned White-crown is very common at one season or another: summering in the mountains and the north, wintering in the southwestern lowlands, present all year along the coast. 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[12] Not to mention numerous mammalian carnivores, at least ten avian predators often hunt them and they are among the most regular prey species for some smaller raptors, i.e.