Friday, May 5, 2017

White-throated Sparrow

I found a small flock of White-throated Sparrows on 28 April at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. These sparrows are common migrants in our part of the state. A search of my blog will reveal several previous posts with discussions of White-throated Sparrow plumages and songs.

Based on genetic evidence, White-throated Sparrows and other birds in their genus are most closely related to Juncos. Morphologically this conclusion may seem surprising, but hybrids between the two genera are reported. Within their genus, White-throated Sparrows diverged from White-crowned and Golden-crowned sparrows about 750,000 years ago. Still earlier, some 1.2 million years ago, the ancestors of these three species diverged from Harris’s Sparrows (Falls and Kopachena 2010).

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