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Our Feathered Friends - July 11

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Many years ago this true Sparrow was not near as populated as they are now. I hear them singing over at my mothers on West Spring Street as well as the West Main location of my very own Liberty State Bank and many other abodes that crosses my path here in town. Back at The Wilson Post building, they nested for several years in the thick holly shrubs that lined the front wall before the people that owned the building decided to cut them all down.


On one of my favorite trips to visit friends in Oregon, my son Jason Pope and I took the long way there traveling to Arkansas, down to Texas where we got our first view of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher sitting in the humid 112 degrees-in-the-shade heat. From Texas we went north to I-40 into New Mexico, then to Arizona to visit the Meteor Crater, Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. I am going to save that story for another week. Anyway, after getting to Oregon, where we camped out, each morning began with a wakeup call from a Song Sparrow.


The Song Sparrow, (Melospiza Melodia) lives up to his name more than any other bird in the United States. One phonic interpetation of the song is "Maids! Maids! Maids! hang up your teakettle-ettle-ettle" which in early spring may be repeated up to 300 times an hour. Over the years the song stays the same, but will have a few different variations from location to location. The one that was singing at Hood River, Oregon sounded the same, but still different.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=20|imageid=375|displayname=0|float=right}


The adult bird has brown upperparts with brown streaks along the back with a whitish belly. There are brown streaks on the breast with a dark brown spot there as well. The head wears a brown cap and the tail is long and rounded. The face is gray and has a brown streak running through it.


After the love bug has smitten and mating has occurred, the female builds her first nest in a clump of grass right on the ground where it is easy predation for snakes and rodents. The female alone will incubate the clutch of three to five brown-spotted greenish eggs which hatch in 12 days. The second brood will be raised in a little higher nest in a small bush. Cowbirds are known to use the Song Sparrows for raising their own babies. One Sparrow was seen feeding at least five Cowbird youngsters in the same brood.


Weed seed picked up from the ground seems to be the biggest part of their diet. That is why I always scatter mixed seed on the ground. Song Sparrows will also consume beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.


These beautiful singers range in the west from the Aleutian Islands to Newfoundland south to Mexico, then east to northwest South Carolina. Some of the ones that migrate will find themselves down in southern Texas to Florida.


We would love to hear from you as to whats lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can reach Karen Franklin at karen.feathered@gmail.com and write me at 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at ourfeatheredfriends@yahoo.com

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