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Tonight I’m featuring some images of what may be the most widely distributed sparrow in North America, the Song Sparrow.
Although this little bird may be common it is not easy to observe. It is an inhabitant of thickets, brush, and marshlands, and it is extremely skilled at hiding in dense vegetation. In the Tucson area Sweetwater Wetlands is a location where they are fairly easy to find. These birds love the reed beds at the wetlands and there are probably hundreds of individuals who are resident there.
There are numerous Song Sparrow subspecies with regional populations and there is a great deal of color and even size variation among the subspecies. That can make identifying these birds a bit difficult. It’s made difficult also by the fact that there are many other sparrow species in North America and a lot of these birds have markings that look similar, at least from a distance.
But, there are a few ways to tell Song Sparrows apart from other sparrow species. Habitat is one way of winnowing down the possibilities. The many sparrow species are pretty habitat specific. At Sweetwater Wetlands, for example, the vast majority of the sparrows that one sees hanging out in the reeds are Song Sparrows. Second, Song Sparrows have long, rounded tails, a feature that is more pronounced than those of most other sparrow species.
But, what really sets these sparrows apart is that several subspecies have a single dark mark on their breasts.
That mark is plainly visible in this final image. If you see a sparrow with that mark, you know it’s a Song Sparrow.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 640, f6.3 @ 1/2500.