When birds don’t want to be photographed, there’s nothing you can do. But when they do, they’ll perch on a prominent spot with a nice clean background and pose for you, turning this way and that, to be sure you get their best look. That was the case with this Savannah Sparrow yesterday morning. It perched just as plain as you could ask for on top of a big round rock near picnic area No. 1, just a few feet from the paved perimeter trail, so you couldn’t miss it. And it held forth with enthusiasm and endurance while park visitors stopped and listened.
I thought at first it was a Song Sparrow. That dark spot on its breast is a Song Sparrow tell, and of course Song Sparrows love to stand there and belt out a song. But that yellow eyebrow says “Savannah,” and when the bird turned and revealed its forked tail, case closed. It’s a Savannah.
Savannah Sparrows have a history in the park, and strong attachments. They tend to return faithfully to the exact spot where they were hatched. They have outstanding navigation and orientation capacities. They forage on the ground and build their nests in the grass. It would be a help to them and other ground-nesting birds if Park management were to delay mowing the big meadow in the southeast corner of the park until July, when bird reproduction season is over.
Burrowing Owl Update
This morning, Friday the 17th, the Burrowing Owl in the park had returned to Perch B, much to the satisfaction of more than a dozen park visitors who wanted to see it. The video camera recorded the owl for about 40 minutes. During that time the owl did nothing out of the ordinary — looking right, left, and up — apart from one moment, when the owl turned completely around by way of a stretch, and we got to peek under its skirts, as it were. What we saw was a dense covering of feathers as fine as down that shielded the bird’s body underneath the larger feather cover of its wings. When it finished the turn, its face was covered in white feathers. I’ve never seen the owl do this particular maneuver so I’m happy to post it in the video, above.