These two Song Sparrow photos were the best images I took yesterday while up in northern Utah mainly because it wasn’t very birdy but also because some of the birds I saw and identified were too far away. In the same area last week I had a great day finding birds that could be photographed but from one day to the next things can change.
I was trying to photograph some Red-tailed Hawks when I heard a song close to me and realized it was a Song Sparrow before I even located the bird and put my lens on it. Sometimes my ears locate the birds before my eyes do and then I use my eyes to find them.
This little beauty was perched on a barbed wire fence with spring grasses and sagebrush behind it in the distance.
Song Sparrows are adaptable, abundant and extremely variable. There are 52 named subspecies and 24 of those subspecies are considered valid today which makes Song Sparrows one of the birds of North America with the most numerous subspecies.
Both the common and scientific name for these sparrows suit them well because they both indicate that this species sings and they do sing a lot. The scientific name is Melospiza melodia and the melodia part is for melody. These sparrows are songsters that may have a repertoire with as many as twenty tunes and many variations of those tunes. Females rarely sing and when they do their songs are simpler than the males.
To my ears their winter songs sound just a bit different than the tunes they sing in spring when the males start to sing in their breeding territory to attract their mates. Maybe they are simply more exuberant in spring.
Life is good.
Sparrows ore often called Little Brown Birds (LBBs) or Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) because people have trouble identifying them and I readily admit I have misidentified a few over time as well but I have also gotten better at their ID by using my field guides and birding apps.