Wonderful World of Sparrows
Kituwah Farms, Bryson City, NC
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Our sparrow-themed day trip turned out to be rather lacking concerning sparrow diversity, as such winter regulars as Savannah, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows seemingly had not arrived yet, and transients such as Lincoln’s Sparrows were nowhere to be found. The day began with a threat of rain, and we managed to ‘beat the bushes’ in a big loop before the first rain came, finding gobs of Song Sparrow. We had ample time to study this variable yet common species, appreciating the subtle differences in color between individuals. Also in good numbers were Field Sparrows, one of the more attractive sparrows, and we enjoyed lengthy views of several foraging on the ground through the scope. After much searching and critiquing of Song and Field Sparrows, we finally found a different species – a Swamp Sparrow. Views were very brief as the bird sat up for a second before uncooperatively diving down into thicker vegetation, not to be seen again.
Other highlights included great looks at such common yet beautiful species as Northern Flicker and Brown Thrasher. The Yellow-rumped Warblers had arrived in full force and were found in just about every large tree! In the open areas, they were replaced by Western Palm Warblers, which continuously perched in saplings and on stakes in the garden, pumping their tails and flashing their yellow undertail coverts.
The clear highlight of the day was a very cooperative and attractive male American Kestrel, which perched close by on top of the wooden pole near the Cherokee earthenware mound. We watched under shelter as he skimmed the surface of the grass looking for prey in the rain.
Although today was a bit difficult at times, everyone ended up having a great time seeing a good selection of birds.