Canada Canada Canada: the White-throated Sparrow

It’s one of my favourite days of the year. My friend and I arise at 3am on a usually crisp June morning and begin our drive from the little lakeside resort where we stay in Gogama, Ontario (about 6 hours north of Toronto).
As urban residents, it is a complete pleasure to drive about 90 minutes, much of it on rough logging roads, and not to see even one other vehicle. We do, however, keep an eye open for moose, bears, grouse and bunnies.

Our destination is the intersection of two remote logging roads just north of Ramsey, Ontario. Ramsey consists of a trailer housing a few railway workers and 2 or 3 cottages.

We get out of the car and begin preparation for another of the 6 or 7 breeding bird surveys we will run this week. Take the temperature, look for clouds in the dark sky, estimate the wind speed and apply bug spray if we encounter too many buzzy visitors.

And every year it is the same. We are deliciously greeted by the glorious, belted-out songs of 4 or 5 white-throated sparrows. Maybe you know the one. The one that seems to be singing “Sweet sweet sweet Canada Canada Canada.” Those triplets at the end are absolutely characteristic. Of course, there are different interpretations of what is being sung. In the USA, it is “How are you Peabody Peabody Peabody.” In Québec it is rendered as “Où est-tu Frédéric Fréderic Frédéric”

Whatever they might be saying, they are happy to be here and starting the reproductive process in a place where there is less competition for food and good nesting places than there is in the southern and eastern United States locales where they spend the winter.

Thanks guys! See you next spring.

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

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  1. Pingback: Gogama, Ontario | Miles Hearn

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