Centennial Valley Bathing Vesper Sparrows

/, Birds, Centennial Valley, Montana, Vesper Sparrows/Centennial Valley Bathing Vesper Sparrows

Vesper Sparrow air drying after its bathVesper Sparrow air drying after its bath – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

While looking for raptors to photograph in the Centennial Valley of Montana I always keep my eyes on the look out for other birds and animals and some times a small movement draws my attention and I spot other, tinier birds. A Vesper Sparrow caught my eye last week as it fluttered and fluffed on an old barb wire fence near the road and I just had to photograph it.

At one point in time Vesper Sparrows were called “Bay-winged buntings” but John Burroughs (1837-1921) changed the name because he thought their song sounded melodious in the evening. Other obsolete common names include Grass Finch and Hesperian Bird. The “bay-winged” part of the old name probably came from the rufous coverts that sometimes show on this sparrow.

Bathing Vesper SparrowBathing Vesper Sparrow – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

The bathing Vesper Sparrow wasn’t alone and soon I was focusing on the others that were bathing in a spring along side of the road. There was plenty of water flowing in the spring and that must be what attracted them to the area. These sparrows will bathe, fluff and then bathe some more. These medium sized sparrows can sure make the water fly!

Vesper Sparrow splashing in a springVesper Sparrow splashing in a spring – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Vesper Sparrow populations have declined in many areas of the eastern United States where they are listed as endangered, threatened and a species of special concern but still appear to be doing well in other areas of their range. Farming practices, chemicals, early hay harvesting and large scale tillage are contributing to their decline. The Vesper Sparrow is the only member of its taxonomic genus, Poocetes gramineus.

I love to photograph these sparrows and listen to their songs, they might be tiny, little brown birds but they fascinate me, as all birds do.

More to come soon from my recent Montana journey.

Life is good.



  1. Patty Chadwick September 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm


  2. Scott Simmons September 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Wonderful Vesper Sparrow shots! I’m going to have to wait a month or two before I’m graced with their presence again.

  3. Elephant's Child September 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Feathered enchantment. Again. Thank you. Again.

  4. Utahbooklover September 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for posting this series and the interesting history of the name. Reminds me of the house sparrows that were using our lawn sprinklers and the grass itself to get clean a few weeks ago, a great view through the glass door.

  5. Lois Bryan September 15, 2014 at 10:31 am

    AWWW!!! Love those little water diamonds splashing up!!!!

  6. Jolanta September 15, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I really like these photos! Thanks 🙂

  7. Sherry in Mt September 15, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Love love love the birdbath photos! Was out on the Rocky Mountain Front yesterday and saw loads of hawks but not a one was going to be where I could shoot them – darnit. But watch for my upcoming meadowlark shot – not as fabulous as yours but I’m happy with it and was surprised how many we saw on our drive.

  8. Liz Cormack September 15, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Oh, what wonderful shots, Mia. Thanks for sharing.

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