BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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SAVANNA SPARROW; SAVANNAH SPARROW. Passerculus sandwichensis savanna
5.68 in.

Ad.— Upper parts brown, streaked with blackish; a yellow line over each eye, and a narrow white stripe through the centre of the crown; breast and sides rather narrowly streaked; the spot in the centre of the breast and on the sides of the throat not so prominent as in the Song Sparrow; tail rather short; legs and feet pale pink. Im.— No yellow over eye.

Nest, on the ground. Eggs, bluish-white, thickly marked with reddish-brown.

The Savannah Sparrow is a common summer resident of the upland meadows of Berkshire County, Mass., and of northern New England and New York. It also breeds commonly on the edges of extensive salt meadows along the New England coast, north of Long Island Sound, and on the wide alluvial meadows of certain rivers, such as the Concord and the Connecticut. Through southern New England and the lower Hudson Valley it occurs chiefly as a migrant, common in April and early May, and again in September and October. It should then be looked for in grassy fields, particularly near the sea-shore, or along the larger streams.

The Savannah Sparrow, unlike most migrants, rarely sings during migration. On its breeding-ground the song continues through July. The song is unlike those of the Vesper Sparrow and the Song Sparrow, but might be confused with that of the Grasshopper Sparrow. It is uttered from a rock or a low post, and consists of two or three preliminary chips, followed by two long insect-like trills, the second in a little lower key than the first, tsip, tsip, tsip, tseeeeeeeee tsee-ee-ee-ee. The Grasshopper Sparrow's song is drier, less musical, and the trill is all on one note. When the birds have young about, they are very watchful, and observe an intruder by the hour, continually uttering a sharp tsup. When two birds quarrel, they utter a harsh bsss. The appearance of the Savannah Sparrow's head, as the bird faces one, should distinguish it from the Song Sparrow and the Vesper Sparrow; the white median line and the yellow lines over the eyes give the head a striped appearance, quite distinct from that of the other two species. The shortness of its tail, too, is apparent when it flies; after a short nervous flight it drops into the grass, where it runs along or squats motionless.



IPSWICH SPARROW. Passerculus [sandwichensis] princeps
[SAVANNAH SPARROW - IPSWICH SUB-SPECIES]
6.25 in.

Ad. in spring.— Spot before the eye yellow; line over eye white; upper parts pale gray, streaked on the head with black, on the back with brown; throat and belly white; breast and sides streaked with brown; legs and feet pale pink. Ad. in winter.— Similar, but without the yellow before the eye.

The Ipswich Sparrow is a migrant and winter visitant along the sea-coast of New England and New York, commoner during the migration than in winter. It arrives in November and stays till the first week of April. At all seasons it is confined to extensive stretches of beach-grass, such as occur at Ipswich, Mass., on Cape Cod, and on Long Island; occasionally it comes down to the beach and feeds there with Shore Larks and Snow Buntings. One can flush it by walking through the beach-grass; after a hurried flight it dives down again into the grass, and either crouches under a tuft of grass, or runs low from one bit of cover to the next. Its note is a faint tsip.

Its general aspect is that of a large, pale Savannah Sparrow, and care must be taken to distinguish it from this species, which is often abundant in the beach-grass.

[While it was considered its own species, recent DNA analysis has shown that the Ipswich Sparrow is really a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow.]



VESPER SPARROW; BAY-WINGED BUNTING. Pooecetes gramineus
6.12 in.

Ad.— Upper parts grayish brown, streaked with dark brown; breast and sides rather narrowly streaked, the streaks often forming a spot in the centre; sides of the throat narrowly streaked; cheek washed with buff; bend of wing bay; outer pair of tail feathers mostly white, the next partly white.

Nest, in a depression in grass or under clump of plants. Eggs, dull white, buffy, or pinkish buffy, stained and speckled with reddish-brown.

The Vesper Sparrow is a common summer resident of New York and New England, though absent, of course, in the heavily forested regions of northern New England. Even here it appears in the upper valleys as soon as clearings are made and grass-land becomes extensive. The Vesper Sparrow arrives in early April, and stays till the middle or end of October. It frequents short-cropped pasture land, and the edges of cultivated fields. Here from a rock, a fence, or the limb of a tree, it sings its song, so often repeated toward evening that it has won for the bird its name.

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Beginners have much difficulty in distinguishing the song of this sparrow from that of the Song Sparrow. The opening notes of the latter are very various, but are almost always three, rather brisk and high. Those of the Vesper Sparrow are two, low, long, and sweet; then after two higher notes the song runs off into a succession of trills, not musical in themselves, but aiding in giving the whole performance more dignity and sweetness than the Song Sparrow's livelier effort. The time is distinctly slower, and the whole number of notes greater than in the Song Sparrow's song. In certain regions the first of the opening notes is omitted, as in Berkshire County, Mass., and northern New England, or they are modified, as on Nantucket, where they resemble those of the Field Sparrow.

To distinguish between the Vesper Sparrow and the Song Sparrow, observe, if possible, the white outer tail-feathers of the former; these, however, are often not clearly visible, the bird must spread its tail fully to show them. One may also note the grayer shade of the Vesper Sparrow's brown, the dusky cheek-patch, and the absence at the sides of the throat of the reddish-brown marks, which on the Song Sparrow form a triangle with the dark breast-spot. The Vesper Sparrow is a less nervous bird than the Song Sparrow; it often runs or squats before one, either in the road, where it dusts itself like a hen, or in the grass; the Song Sparrow darts with a jerk of its tail into the nearest bushes.



ENGLISH [HOUSE] SPARROW. Passer domesticus
6.33 in.

Ad. ♂.— Top of head grayish; a patch of chestnut on each side of the head; back brown, streaked with black; wing-bars white; a stripe of chestnut on each wing; throat and upper breast black; rest of under parts grayish-white. Ad. ♀.— Head grayish-brown; back streaked with black and buff; under parts whitish; breast washed with grayish-brown.

Nest, either in trees, or in a hole or corner. Eggs, generally white, sometimes brownish, finely speckled with brown or gray.

The English Sparrow is now a permanent resident of nearly every city, town, and village in New York and New England. Only the wilder or more hilly portions of northern New England are still free from its presence. In many suburbs it occupies the boxes and holes which otherwise Bluebirds, Wrens, and White-bellied Swallows would use. It also annoys Robins by following the parents when they are collecting food for their young and stealing it from out of their bills. At night Sparrows roost in thick trees or vines, and in large cities collect in astonishing numbers in small parks. In the country small flocks often collect in brush-heaps.

The Sparrow's voice is harsh, and too suggestive of the city to please most ears. Its ordinary note is the well-known chirp, but it has an astonishingly large number of modifications of this note. In spring, or on warm days in winter, the male utters a cry, like the syllables fée-leep, with a persistence worthy of a better cause. The chunkiness of the Sparrow, the unstreaked dingy-white breast of the female, and the black throat of the male, will serve to identify it to any one who is so fortunate as to be unacquainted with it.

[CLAY-COLORED SPARROW]. Spizella Pallida

Missing in the original book as it is a sparrow of the interior of North America. It's a not too uncommon visitor to the area of the interest of the book.



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