The early bird gets the worm, right? Well this week’s bird, the White-crowned Sparrow, is pretty darn early! This sparrow is common in our area in the winter months, making this bird’s appearance in our back yard on Saturday a harbinger of cooler weather to come!
It was a surprise to see this little guy hopping around! I was so surprised, in fact, that I wasn’t able to get a clear photo. The photo with this week’s column is from January, earlier this year.
The White-crowned Sparrow is a sweet little bird, that is only about 6″ from beak to tail. Their most distinguishing feature is the white and black stripes on their crown. Their body and wings are striped a fairly plain gray and brown.
Their song is really beautiful to hear, with high, clear notes that are followed by a high buzz. They can make quite a racket when they’re in a flock, but one of the most interesting facts about White-crowned Sparrows is that their calls have regional differences. According to the Audubon Society, in the winter these birds “usually live in flocks”, but I have only seen them foraging alone in my yard. They’re entertaining to watch as they hop along on the ground looking for insects to eat.
They also eat seeds and some vegetation. They really enjoy the seeds found on weeds and grass. They also really love bark butter (recipe below), which I make at least once a week during the late fall and winter months.
Watch for these little cuties to start arriving in your yard, too!
Bark Butter – it attracts all sorts of birds!
(A stand mixer is helpful for this recipe, as the butter is very stiff and difficult to mix by hand)
1 cup lard
2 cups peanut butter
4 cups cornmeal
2 cups rolled oats (I have made it without)
2 cups bird seed (I have made it without)
Store the butter in an airtight zip baggie in the refrigerator. Spread some of the mixture on the bark of a tree as needed. I usually go through all of this mixture in about a week.
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