Discover Nature NotesMore posts

Winter Sparrows

Dec 09, 2018

Even in the dead of winter things can get pretty lively around a bird feeder. It’s a meeting place for cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches and those “little brown birds", the sparrows.

Sparrows are small birds with short, thick bills for cracking seeds. They prefer to feed near the ground. Sparrows are basically brown, but different kinds of sparrows have rather colorful markings, from yellow eyebrows to reddish caps and white mohawks. Some winter sparrows that you may see in Missouri include the fox sparrow, tree sparrow, and white-crowned sparrow. See and hear them in the media gallery below.

Sparrows are easily attracted to your backyard. And they eat cheap! Sparrows actually prefer the lower-priced bird seed. White millet spread on the ground, close to a shrub or bush is perfect! It’s sure to welcome in those “little brown birds", bringing activity to your bird feeder, and life to the dead of winter.

Sparrow Hierarchy

House Sparrows are very social creatures, feeding and roosting in large flocks.

  • For house sparrows, a male's place in the hierarchy is spelled out by the size of the patch of black feathers on his chest. A status badge of sorts that lets everyone know who's in charge and who isn’t.
  • All male house sparrows have a patch, but the larger the patch, the higher the ranking. It’s all very orderly and every bird knows his place, from the generals to the colonels to the lowly privates.
  • As always, with status come perks: High-ranking males eat at safer food sites. They have bigger and better breeding territories. They’re more dominant in winter flocks, putting them first in line for food. They get more and better mates, and pair up earlier in the year than males with smaller markings.

For more on house sparrows, visit the National Audubon Society’s website.

american_tree_sparrow.jpg

american tree sparrow
American Tree Sparrow

Identify Your Common Backyard Birds

Learn how to identify common backyard birds in this video by Lew Scharpf
Learn how to identify common backyard birds in this video by Lew Scharpf

Comments

My Jack Russell payed very close attention to video and sound.

Saw 2 white headed eagles on Old Ferry Rd right after taking the Brussels Ferry

Recent Posts

Flathead Catfish

Fish Fathers

Jun 09, 2019

Father's Day is a popular time of year for family fishing. Check out two fish fathers who would qualify for "super dad" status when it comes to raising young fry. Learn their techniques and catch some fishing tips in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Hummingbird Hustle

Jun 02, 2019

Hummingbird Hustle: These pint-sized birds pack a lot of power and speed in their game. They can fly backwards, sideways and even upside down with wings beating more than 50 times per second. Hummingbirds also feature a rainbow of colors as they flit about seeking nectar from orange and red tubular flowers. Watch one in slow motion and learn how to attract them to your yard in this week's Discover Nature Note.

female belted kingfisher

The Bird that Fishes

May 26, 2019

With stout frame and a mohawk crest, this potent predator strikes with stealth. Its prey may not see it coming, but you might if you listen for its swooping call. Find out more about this wild fisher on Missouri waters in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away

Recipes

You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes