Bird of the Week

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Photo courtesy Byron Greco

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Lincoln’s sparrow.

Spring and fall are good seasons to look for this bird along the Riverwalk in town. Their secretive behaviors and solitary natures make them often overlooked. They rarely stray far from cover, but one may show up with other birds scratching for seed under bird feeders at this time of year.

Lincoln’s sparrows have very specific habitat preferences. In summer, they breed in dense willow thickets along wet meadows and bogs. They are tough to spot sneaking on the ground in search of insects deep within the brush.

Most of the population breeds within Canada’s boreal forest, but their summer range also includes the mountains of the western United States and extends into the higher elevations of our area. In winter, they are found in southern states and south to Central America in shrubby grasslands and forests.

In appearance the Lincoln’s sparrow resembles the closely related song sparrow and they are both often found near water. The genus name of these two species, melospiza, comes from the Greek word for song. In defense of territory, the male Lincoln’s sings a bubbly, wrenlike song.

A pale eye-ring and buffy wash on the finely streaked breast above a white belly are distinguishing traits of the Lincoln’s. Its gray head is cut by two rust colored crown stripes and is often peaked.

Learning to identify birds by their songs is a useful tool in finding those species that prefer to stay out of sight. Check our website for links to birding-by-ear classes in April and May.

For information on activities, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudbon/.