Tuesday, May 13, 2014

White-throated Sparrow

I band a good number of White-throated Sparrows during early May. The species breeds in the North Woods and winters across much of the United States. As most of my readers well know,  during migration, this sparrow is often common at local bird feeders.

Unlike the Swamp Sparrows, about which I last posted, White-throated Sparrows are one of our best-studied songbirds (Falls and Kopachena 2010). I have blogged about this species on many previous occasions. For example, see my discussion on how White-throated Sparrows come in two color morphs.

Because White-throated Sparrows are easily kept in captivity, much is known about their physiology. Between college and graduate school, Erika assisted Albert Meier of Louisiana State University in his pioneering research into the role of the hormone prolactin in White-throated Sparrow biology (see, for example, this article from Jstor). Briefly, Meier discovered temporal differences in release of prolactin and corticosteroids result in different regimes of fat storage and migratory behavior in White-throated Sparrows and other birds. Differing day length regimes trigger these different times of hormone release.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the '2 different morphs' info - it cleared up the mystery
    of my WTSP in my yards.