Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chipping Sparrow

Yesterday I caught a Chipping Sparrow that I originally banded on 7 May 2009.  Surely birds' ability to return to their nesting territory each spring is one of nature's wonders.  Ornithologists tell us that birds rely on multiple clues for navigation, including the sun, stars, and the earth's magnetic field.  Nevertheless, it is amazing that a small bird like a Chipping Sparrow can make it back to the exact field where it bred last year. (This species usually winters north only to the southern United States.)

Chipping Sparrows, encountered from western pine forests all the way to the urban sprawl of the east, may be one of the most common birds in North America.  Many of us probably hardly give the Chipping Sparrow a second look, but, as you can see from this photo, this species is an exquisite little bird.

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