Friday, December 4, 2015

Harris' Sparrows--One Question Answered

I do love these Harris' Sparrows!

They reconcile me to the arrival of winter.   As stems die  & leaves fall, the bare branches bloom with birds.

My bird book says Harris' Sparrows have calls that go "tseep" and "wink."  It says their song includes long whistles, often on the  same pitch.

Those whistles are unmistakable--among the most beautiful of nature's sounds.

Yet for weeks now, in addition to the expected vocalizations,  I have been hearing bubbly burbles--not tseeps, winks, or whistles.   Were these songs coming from other winter birds--perhaps the Tree Sparrows or Juncoes?    For a long time I could not get close enough to tell.    But tonight I focused my camera on a singing Harris' Sparrow, and sure enough, out of the opened bill came the bubbly burble!  Nearby birds were whistling, but this one was burbling!    

I was able to get audio to go with the video (below).   It was exhilarating to find an answer to my question--to finally connect a singer with the song!

Sparkly Sparrows, Bubbly Birds!

I can't get over our good fortune, here in the Flint Hills: Harris's Sparrows choose OUR AREA to be their winter home!

They do this every year.

This year they arrived  on October 16.  I heard their lovely whistles before I saw their actual selves.  

They perch in the deep grass and thickets of our Creek Field and cluster in the plums along the driveway.

Their cheeps & whistles & bubbly burbles keep me company every day at twilight as I walk the mile-long loop around the Creek Field.

I tried for weeks to get photos of these beautiful birds.

At first, they simply fled into the grass when they saw me coming.    Then they sat  up on branches but bolted the instant I raised my camera.   Next, they stayed still (if blurry) as I looked through the viewfinder--but flew if I sharpened the image.    I swear they could feel themselves coming into focus--& they didn't like it.

But today they let me get close.

They gathered in bushes & on small trees and conversed sweetly while I pressed the shutter.   Perhaps I blended in to the gathering darkness.  

Maybe I myself was comfortingly blurry.

The light wasn't the best for photography--but it was good for proximity.

Welcome, winter neighbors.   May you find shelter & delicious seeds in the Creek Field.

 I am so glad you're here!