White-crowned Sparrows with Frost and Fluff

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow landing and knocking frost off of RabbitbrushJuvenile White-crowned Sparrow landing and knocking frost off of Rabbitbrush

On some winter mornings at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area everything can be covered in hoar frost after the nightly lake fog envelops the marshes. The grasses and shrubs bend because they are heavily coated and every branch on the trees appear to be covered in delicate white frost flowers.

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow with a frost covered seedJuvenile White-crowned Sparrow with a frost covered seed

One of the food items that White-crowned Sparrows depend on during the harsh winters in Utah are the fluffy seeds of the Rabbitbrush that can be covered in hoar frost. It isn’t unusual to see sparrows there with frost on their bills as they forage for food in the morning.

Hoar frost and a White-crowned Sparrow juvenileHoar frost and a White-crowned Sparrow juvenile

I see more juvenile White-crowned Sparrows than I do the flashy adults but I enjoy the subtle colors and patterns of the juveniles just as much. I like to watch them scurrying around on the ground or flitting from bush to bush.

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow foraging on RabbitbrushJuvenile White-crowned Sparrow foraging on Rabbitbrush

I think that seeing them on the fluff and frost covered Rabbitbrush is my favorite though because I like all the soft textures in my viewfinder which contrast with how hard winters are here on these small birds.

White-crowned Sparrow juvenile on RabbitbrushWhite-crowned Sparrow juvenile on Rabbitbrush

White-crowned Sparrows are tougher than they look and I appreciate that about them. When there are no air boats revving their engines and no vehicles going by I can hear their soft chirps even when I can’t see them and I want to stop to see if they will come up to the tops of the bushes and into the sunlight.

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow with a seed on its billJuvenile White-crowned Sparrow with a seed on its bill

Even when there are other birds around I am always looking for a sparrow to make an appearance up close so that I can photograph them. They move quickly so I need to do the same if I want sharp images and they are also unpredictable and I can never tell which direction they might take.

An alert White-crowned Sparrow juvenileAn alert White-crowned Sparrow juvenile

Those challenges make it even more delightful for me when I get a series of sharp images of the White-crowned Sparrows in various poses with the frost and fluff.

Mia

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing birds. My approach is to photograph the birds without disturbing their natural behavior. I don't bait, use set ups or call them in. I use Nikon gear and has multiple camera bodies and lenses.

13 Comments

  1. Aw, such a beautiful photo essay of this feathered person. So, what’s the deal with the air boats and noise pollution?

  2. it s a very nice serie, the support is wonderful and makes a good background for the sparrow, bravo mia ☺

  3. How beautiful they are. Thank you.

  4. Sweet, sweet … love the poses captured and especially the varying levels of tone on tone … so beautiful!!!!!!

  5. The distinctive white stripes of the adults are missing but the youngsters are good-looking too, as this series shows well — thanks!

  6. Wonderful, wonderful series of one of my favorite little winter visitors…I lovey it. Thanks, Mia.Keep up the good work (and may your. Toes stay warm!)

  7. Really special collection here. The last photo looks portrait-like.

  8. Terrific series of the sparrows. You got you wish! They’re all sharp and lovely lighting.

  9. Oh that one is superb, very well photographed Mia.

  10. What a lovely series. I’m looking forward to making the acquaintance of some of your Sparrows next month and will remember these if/when I do.

  11. I like the brown tones and orange bill of this handsome bird surrounded by the soft rabbit brush. The frost makes a beautiful contrast too. If only we all looked this good with our food!

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