Grasshopper Sparrow on Breeding Bird Survey: June 2021

This morning I left a little earlier – 3:15 am – to drive to the first stop of this survey (Crooked Creek) which begins just north west of Port Hope. It is the final one of my three Southern Ontario routes. Next I head to Northern Ontario.

Some route images:

Ringlet Butterfly
Moon

MYSTERY BIRD

I will identify it at the end of the post.

A few months ago I posted Identification of 11 Sparrow Species: a Photographic Guide

This morning’s survey featured 2 more sparrow species. In fact, the first bird I heard at 4:30 am was a Vesper Sparrow. I had 4 during the survey but was unable to photograph any. Here is a photo from the Cornell Lab. site:

Vesper Sparrow (photo: allaboutbirds.org)

The other sparrow was the quite uncommon Grasshopper Sparrow. The song is described as a very high, hissing, insect-like buzz preceded by weak tik notes. They breed in large expanses of dense tall grass with scattered shrubs or weeds on dry ground. They are difficult to locate and even more difficult to photograph but I did find one briefly on a fence post. Note the complete eye ring:

Grasshopper Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow

I did have some beautiful singers during the 4.5 hour long survey.

Red-eyed Vireo, House Wren, Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, American Goldfinch, Bobolink. Eastern Meadowlark, Baltimore Oriole, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-and-white Warbler and Indigo Bunting. For the most part, the Crooked Creek Survey is on very peaceful country roads but there is a short interval when I had as many as 10 cars pass by during a 3 minute stop.

Birds I was able to photograph:

Song Sparrow
Eastern Kingbird
Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
Ring-billed Gulls
Ring-billed Gull
American Crow
American Crow
American Crow
Song Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male)

Some botany:

Goat’s-beard (Tragopogon)
Apple (Malus)
Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Red-osier (Cornus sericea)
Brome Grass (Bromus inermis)
Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
Dog-strangling Vine (Vincetoxicum rossicum)
Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)

MYSTERY BIRD

The only other warbler that is mostly yellow with a darkish back like this one is the Prothonotary Warbler but it does not have wing bars. This is a female Yellow Warbler.

Yellow Warbler (female)

MAILBOX

Hi Miles,

Could this be a Mallard-Gadwall hybrid?

I would say yes as it has features of both parents.

NATURE POETRY

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies’ dance
All the meadow over.                                  – Marjorie Pickthall (1883–1922)

Miles Hearn

2 thoughts on “Grasshopper Sparrow on Breeding Bird Survey: June 2021

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Of course, when you named the other kind of warbler first, I thought, “Of COURSE I didn’t get it. How could I have?” But I did, because the other one never occurred to me! (I’ll give myself 3/4 points, because I didn’t think “female”.)
    As for the Rose–breasted Grosbeak–seeing it here, in this pose, brought to mind an instance occurring many, many years ago, when my hiking buddy and I entered a copse of trees, saw one posing in the exact same way, and while suitably impressed, couldn’t identify it. Now I can! Better late than never. Thanks, Miles!

    Reply

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