Sunday, May 16, 2021

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows are one of North America’s most common and widely distributed sparrows (Middleton 2020). Across their range, these sparrows are found in a variety of habitats—forest openings and grasslands—and towns and gardens. But their range in Washington is strange. They are common in the eastern part of the state, but their range is sporadic in the west. I have never seen one here in Olympia, but Erika and I have occasionally seen them in prairies 20 miles south of us. During a bicycle ride on the southern Chehalis Bike Trail on 13 May 2021, we hoped to photograph a Chipping Sparrow. We found them to be relatively common and succeeded with our photographic quest. 

In the west, Chipping Sparrows are also common in clearcuts and forests in the San Juan Islands and in the northern Olympic Mountains, and in scattered high elevations of the Cascades. Isolated populations exist in prairie regions just south of Olympia and in the southwest corner of the state. Wahl et al. (2005) write that Chipping Sparrows were far more common in western Washington in the early 1900s. Populations have since greatly declined, presumably suffering from increasing cowbird predation and habitat loss.

1 comment:

  1. I've photographed them twice in my Olympia yard, in April 2018 and May 2021. A casual search of the web at the time didn't turn up reports of them in the area by others, and I've seen some odd range maps, with a desert for them just around the South Sound.