In On the Move, our regular column about migration, we present pairs of distribution maps from eBird that you can use to compare where interesting birds are at different times of year. We featured LeConte’s Sparrow, pictured above, in our October 2017 issue.
LeConte’s Sparrow, a small, retiring, and subtly marked bird that nests in wet meadows in the prairies of south-central Canada and the Northern Great Plains of the United States, is often difficult to see and is highly sought after by birders. Reluctant to fly when startled, the species normally scurries through the grass like a mouse, a behavior that adds to its mystique. In June, LeConte’s Sparrow breeds from Alberta to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and spottily into Quebec. By October, the species can be found across much of the Great Plains, Midwest, and in portions of the Northeast states and Canada, where it frequents old weedy fields, grasslands, and marsh edges. During the breeding season, listen for the species’ short, insect-like buzzing song; the bird is largely silent during migration. During fall migration, the sparrow generally occurs singly or in small, loose groups, though prime habitat patches can sometimes hold 10-20 individuals.
eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. “On the Move” is written by eBird’s Garrett MacDonald, Chris Wood, Marshall Iliff, and Brian Sullivan. Submit your bird sightings at ebird.org.
A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the October 2017 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe
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