Thursday, April 7, 2011

Song Sparrow

Although perhaps not the best for bird identification, recently I have taken some interesting shots of birds facing me.  Song Sparrows are known for their large, central breast spot.  The dark malar stripes on this bird, the first Song Sparrow I've banded in 2011, are also striking.

When I see Song Sparrows I always think of Margaret Morse Nice.  Born in 1883, she was the daughter of academic parents.  She followed her husband, also a professor, for years. Eventually she found herself house-bound with five children in Ohio. After the death of one of her daughters, seeking release from her grief, Nice joined the Audubon Society.  She began an eight-year study of Song Sparrows.  The resultant  Studies in the Life History of the Song Sparrow part one and Volume II should be read by anyone seriously interested in studying birds.  These books are assessable even for  non-scientists. The famous ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, said this work was "the first long term field investigation of the individual life of any free living wild animal." At her death in 1974, she had published 250 articles in ornithology!  More details on her life can be learned at the Columbus, Ohio, Audubon website.

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