Cooperative Vesper Sparrow in Montana

Perched adult Vesper SparrowPerched adult Vesper Sparrow – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Five evenings ago I was able to photograph a cooperative Vesper Sparrow in Montana’s Centennial Valley. The LBJ (little brown job) seemed to be focused on singing it’s song at the top of a bush, perhaps to find a mate. The rufus coverts can be seen in the image above and are a key I often use to ID this species of sparrow along with other field marks.

Singing Vesper SparrowSinging Vesper Sparrow – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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. I know that the one I photographed last week enchanted me with its song.

Listen to the song of a Vesper Sparrow here.

These sparrows sing actively in the mornings as well as the twilight.

Unfortunately this sparrow species; along with so many other species, are declining in many areas of their range.  Farming practices, chemicals, early hay harvesting and large scale tillage are contributing to their decline. Vesper Sparrows are often the first species to quickly occupy dormant farm fields and reclaimed mines sites as they return to forests.

I’m back home now from Montana and Idaho with several thousand images to go through of birds, landscapes and animals.

I did take a few cell phone videos on my trip, mostly of the scenery. This video was taken not too far from the location where I photographed the Vesper Sparrow in these photos.

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Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover June 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for the cute LBJ along with the beautiful song.
    Also enjoyed the short video and your commentary.

  2. Elephant's Child June 8, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    What a charmer. thank you.

  3. Patty Chadwick June 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I did tune in to the song link….thanks for providing it…ALMOST as good as hearing them in the wild–calling to each other.

  4. Patty Chadwick June 8, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I wonder how those little guys roost on those thorny branches without getting poked…wish I could hear them sing! Love the big sky landscape too…with its flock of fluffy clouds….

  5. Jim Miller June 8, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Another that many people dismiss as LBB’s (Little Brown Birds), but your photos show how beautiful they really are. Thanks again, Mia

  6. Bob McPherson June 8, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Beautiful photos Mia.

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