Birds of the Week # 4
During courtship, the male House Finch will touch bills with the female. He may then present the female with choice bits of food, and if she mimics the behavior of a hungry chick, he may actually feed her. The male also feeds the female during breeding and incubation of the eggs, and raising of the young, and the male is the primary feeder of the fledgelings (who can be differentiated from the females by the pin feathers remaining on their heads). Females are typically attracted to the males with the deepest pigment of red to their head, more so than the occasional orange or yellowish-headed males that sometimes occur.
Adult Purple Finches have a short forked brown tail and brown wings. Adult males are raspberry red on the head, breast, back and rump; their back is streaked. Adult females have light brown upperparts and white underparts with dark brown streaks throughout; they have a white line on the face above the eye.
White-throated Sparrows breed in central Canada and New England. They nest either on the ground under shrubs or low in trees in deciduous or mixed forest areas and lay three to five brown-marked blue or green-white eggs. The tan and white morphs of white-throated sparrows use different reproductive strategies. Tan males invest in parental care and guard their mates from others searching for extra pair copulations (EPCs). White males invest in securing additional mates and EPCs through song advertisement and intruding into neighboring territory. Female morphs have similar differences, where tan females invest in parental care and white females solicit EPCs and engage in brood parasitism, leaving their eggs in another’s nest to be raised and fed. Mating with the opposite morphs and using alternative reproductive strategies helps maintain competitive equilibrium.
Though a habitat generalist, the Song Sparrow favors brushland and marshes, including salt marshes across most of Canada and the United States. They also thrive in human dominated areas such as in suburbs, agricultural fields, and along roadsides. Permanent residents of the southern half of their range, northern populations of the song sparrow migrate to the southern United States or Mexico during winter and intermingle with the native, non-migratory population. The song sparrow is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, with a few recorded in Great Britain and Norway.
The Field Sparrow’s breeding habitat is brushy, shrubby fields across eastern North America. The nest is an open cup on the ground under a clump of grass or in a small thicket. These birds are permanent residents in the southern parts of their range. Northern birds migrate to the southern United States and Mexico.
Throughout the year, adult Chipping Sparrows are gray below and an orangish-rust color above. Adults in alternate (breeding) plumage have a reddish cap, a nearly white supercilium, and a black trans-ocular line (running through the eye). Adults in basic (nonbreeding) plumage are less prominently marked, with a brownish cap, a dusky eyebrow, and a dark eye-line. Juvenile chipping sparrows are prominently streaked below. Like non-breeding adults, they show a dark eye-line, extending both in front of and behind the eye. The brownish cap and dusky eyebrow are variable but generally obscure in juveniles.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101