Monday, June 26, 2017

Henslow's Sparrows

On Saturday, 06/24/17, Jerry Jourdan posted two Henslow's Sparrows (Ammodramus henslowii) at Willow Metropark.  I'm glad he did.  I needed to discipline myself, but I got out early on Sunday morning to look for them.

I didn't have to wait long before a small bird flew in to the tallest weed in the field and sang.  Although the bird was well seen and vocalized beautifully it still seemed too early to leave.  And my photos turned out to be a little too distant.

There were two birds in this location favoring the right side of the field. The bird above did not vocalize and I thought it might be the female. The vocalizer was perched 20 feet to the right of this bird.  While my photo is pixelated, I like the way the colors of the bird show up.  The head, face and neck feather colors of Henslow's Sparrow are unique for a midwest sparrow.

The habitat.  That's the bird perched up on a milkweed in the exact middle.

Above and nine photos below was the real fun.  The bird was so cooperative and beautiful to see singing from the top of the tallest weed.  I didn't want to crop too closely because this would only highlight the pixelation.

Getting 1:40 video of the singing Henslow's was the icing on the cake. As sweet as this bird is, the noise pollution from the wind and the overhead planes from Metro airport is truly revealing of this area. Toward the end of the video, the wind is drowning out the bird.    

I spent about 40 minutes alone with the birds and learned that there was another on the left opposite side of the field.  I also got video of the left field singing bird which I may also download, but it was singing from within the grass.  

As I was leaving, I heard vocalizing coming from a nearby maple tree.  I found the bird in the tree and could not really be certain that it was not also a Henslow's.  But that would be strange.  A Henslow's sparrow in a tree?  

I took several shots and the one above and two below were the most revealing.  I finally decided that this was a hatch-year Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis).

Another birder that I didn't know showed up and I was able to key him in on the locations of the birds. He suggested that I had "taped the birds in."  I made it clear that I don't use recordings of any kind during nesting season - and for that matter, rarely in any other season either.

Shortly thereafter Jerry Jourdan arrived and I was able to thank him for posting the presence of these great birds.  I had to leave, but was not yet finished with birding.  More to come. 

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