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November 2017 Bird of the Month – Savannah Sparrow

(c) Russ Martens 2016 all rights reserved, SAVANNAH SPARROW

November’s Bird of the Month is the Savannah Sparrow, and here is the article in the November 2017 Kite written by Ben Kolstad.

November – Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis

As noted in last month’s write-up of the endangered Florida population of Grasshopper Sparrow, the first part of this month’s bird’s common name comes from a city in Georgia (Savannah) rather than the grassy-plain ecosystem in which the bird is typically found (a savanna). The Savannah Sparrow is one of the more common and widespread sparrows in Florida, but it’s not a backyard feeder bird. It’s more a bird of open spaces and brush piles than manicured lawns and urban lots.

ID tips from the Cornell lab: “Savannah Sparrows are medium-sized sparrows with short, notched tails. The head appears small for the plump body, and the crown feathers often flare up to give the bird’s head a small peak. The thick-based, seed-eating bill is small for a sparrow.” If you’re struggling with sparrows, this one is usually a gimme, because it can usually be distinguished from other sparrows by the patch of yellow in the lores (the bit between the eye and the bill). Other populations show yellow above the eye or even behind it as well, but our Florida birds keep their yellow under control.

Like other sparrows, their camouflage often keeps them out of sight even though you can hear them calling all around you. The New Jersey wildlife department describes their song thus: “The song of the savannah sparrow consists of two to three chips followed by two buzzy trills. The insect-like melody is represented as tsit tsit tsit, tseee tsaay. The call is a mild tsip.”

Look for this bird almost anywhere in the open parts of Palm Beach County. Most of my sightings are from the refuge and the STAs.

Photographer’s please note: next month’s BOM is the Eastern Meadowlark.

Please check out the picture by Russ Martens in the November KITE and to see the slide show of the entire virtual gallery this month, along with photographer etc  — click on BOM SLIDE SHOW below the pictures displayed here:

November 2017 Bird of the Month – Savannah Sparrow Slide Show