Hey guys, welcome back! Today is the field sparrow! The field sparrow is one of my favorite sparrows. They’re rather nondescript as sparrows go, but they’re still pretty cool looking. They have a mostly greyish appearance, with a grey face that has some nice warm brown markings. Their most defining features are a longer tail than most sparrows, a pink bill, and a white eye ring. They’re a little bit smaller than a white-throated sparrow, but larger than a chipping sparrow. Field sparrows are common throughout the eastern half of the U.S., barely reaching extreme southern Ontario, and creeping even less far into extreme northern Mexico.
One of the reasons I think these guys are one of my favs is it’s the first sparrow I ever ID’d completely by myself (at least after I started birding in earnest.) Sure, I was able to ID a swamp sparrow before this, but that was partly me doing my research, but also partly having been shown one before by other birders. The first time I ever saw a field sparrow outside of a guide book, was in Central Park’s North Woods. It was late afternoon, and it was just there on the path about 30 feet in front of me. I looked at it, and remembered “long tail, pink bill” and knew it was a field sparrow! Ever since, I’ve always been fond of field sparrows. Funny how some things stick with you. Like I can’t remember the first time I ever saw most birds, especially not with that detail, but with the field sparrow, it’s like it happened last week.
Birds don’t often show up when or where you think they will. Take last April for example. I was on the phone walking through CityGarden, which is a very small sculpture park in downtown St. Louis. It’s only two small city blocks big. And while on the phone I saw a brown thrasher, and then a hermit thrush, and then three field sparrows! I had only ever seen field sparrows in larger areas of “wilderness” before. Never mere feet from concrete and buildings. Yet, there they were. Mixed in a sparrow flock that included dark-eyed juncos, songs sparrows, and white-throated sparrows. I went home, got my camera and came back. Just goes to show that birds can be very unpredictable! It was a nice little surprise, one that saw me spot over a dozen species in the middle of downtown in under thirty minutes. So let that be a lesson! You don’t have to travel to exotic places to see cool birds! Next time, we’ll look at a tiny bluish-grey bird thats one of the earliest spring migrants; the blue-gray gnatcatcher! See you all then!