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Monday, December 15, 2008

New Winter Visitors

The snow has encouraged some otherwise shy species to venture forth to my bird feeders. This morning, a spotted towhee was hanging out for quite a while. These birds are usually so shy that I at first wondered if something might be wrong with him, because he didn't seem skittish at all! I still often find myself referring to this bird by its older name, rufous-sided towhee. By looking at this picture you can see why:

This next picture, though slightly out of focus, made me laugh. I was laying down on the floor with the camera resting on the edge of the door so I could be on his level as he stomped through the snow:

The other unexpected visitor was a fox sparrow. Several things tipped me off that this wasn't my similar-looking song sparrow visitor. First of all, it immediately struck me as larger, and indeed the fox sparrow is about 7 inches long compared to 5 1/2 for the song sparrow. Also, the chest streaking is much more triangular, with the spots looking like upward pointing arrows on the fox sparrow. The fox sparrow also lacks the distinct central breast dot, although sometimes the streaking does converge into a central smear. Finally, to confirm my identification, notice the yellow lower mandible of this sparrow's beak. Song sparows have much grayer beaks.


Vickie said...

Sweet photos! Some intimate looks along with the snow.

The K said...

Glad to see the new vistors (and pictures). Keep those feeders stocked! I found juncos scratching through the snow covered feeders at my house this morning. I immediately poured fresh seed over the frozen snow and smiled as 5-6 juncos swarmed the feeder. Chickadees and nuthatches took part as well. This is an important season to keep the feeders full since the birds now depend on them.