The White-throated Sparrow is the most conspicuous bird summering in Ontario forests from cottage country north to Hudson Bay, where its sweet song is familiar to most summer visitors and residents.
A few may be found in bog relicts further south. Quite a few linger at feeding stations in southern Ontario in winter and great numbers migrate through residential areas in May and October.
The white throat contrasting with otherwise gray underparts distinguish this from our other sparrows.
There are two colour morphs: one has bright white “eyebrows” and median crown stripe, bordered with black and bright yellow in front and above the eye.
The other has pale tan instead of white head markings, bordered with dark brown instead of black.
It was formerly thought that the tan-striped birds were females and the white-striped birds were males, but it has been shown that either sex may be tan-striped or white-striped.
In Canada we like to paraphrase the song as “Sweet-sweet-sweet- Canada – Canada – Canada” but south of the border other interpretations are more popular.
The metallic “chink” call-note separates it from the “chunks” of Song Sparrows and “chip” of some other sparrows, though the call-note of the White-crowned Sparrow is very similar.
Dr J. Murray Speirs