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 Swamp Sparrow, pictured above, in our December 2017 issue.
Across eastern North America and much of the swath of Canadian boreal forest, the retiring Swamp Sparrow is a common yet elusive inhabitant of cattail marshes, swamps, and brackish meadows. It is most readily identified by its trilled song and metallic chink call. In June, Swamp Sparrow breeds from northwestern Canada south and east through Quebec, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, and in the lower 48 from the Dakotas east through New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. By December, the species has vacated much of its breeding range. It can be found widely in eastern North America, but it’s perhaps most abundant in the southeastern U.S. Most often confused visually with Song and Lincoln’s Sparrows, the Swamp Sparrow can be identified using a combination of field marks: bright rusty upperparts, a grayish face and neck, and a rusty crown.
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 December 2017 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe