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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.