I spent some time on my friend’s verrrrry special organic farm in verrrrrry Northern Maryland on 7/29. Under the blue sky and the puffy clouds and with an unusually cool breeze I got a little more serious about identifying the birds that I always hear singing there.
This was largely inspired by the farmer saying that she had seen an Indigo Bunting that week. As soon as she said it I realized that Indigo Bunting’s chattery little paired song was a lot of what I was hearing. I had seen some Goldfinches making their usual scene, and after some checking their song filled in more of the background noise. Let me clarify: when I say “got more serious” and “checking” what I mean is “got my smart phone out of my car and played some of the bird calls on my Audubon app.”
I’d thought I was hearing Song Sparrows since I started going up to the farm, but the pneumonic for their song, “Maids Maids Maids Put on your tea kettlleesssssssssss,” has never totally matched what I heard. It is basically three clear sounds, then some chattering sounds, blending into a long bubbly noise (maybe like a tea kettle singing). Often I heard something like this, but with only two initial sounds. The app proved very helpful! As I was playing the Song Sparrow samples from Oregon and New York, the farmer and I couldn’t even tell whether we were hearing recordings on my phone or the real birds flying around us. They were the same! And fy Birding By Ear i, the app plays some versions that do start with just two sounds. !!!!!
So I was feeling really happy about my little growing birdsong playlist and being outside all day surrounded by such lovely music and lovely Tamaratoes, when, walking down the tomato rows, new buckets in hand, we flushed a bird. A little brown bird. In the spot where the farmer had found a nest the last time I was there. I have to give myself credit for NOT dropping my bucket in my rush to look. And now I would like to show you what we found! (Preview above).
My gosh, this nest is indeed what Song Sparrow nests and eggs look like, per my highbrow Google Images research. There may be one more egg (3-4 per brood) and this is probably the second of a typical two broods for Song Sparrows. They usually make nests in low shrubs, just like these.
To help us out with the ID, and out of frustration with our presence near her nest, the mother bird sat on a fence post nearby. She had indeed the look of the Sparrow, visible from afar, with stripes down the sides of her head and neck.
See? (Photo from Cornell’s All About Birds) where you too can hear this sweet Sparrow song. And you will probably realize that you hear it all around you everyday! This bird lives throughout the country, extending out across the Aleutian Islands (where it can probably see Russia from its house).
Map also from Cornell.
They get along pretty well around people. That is lucky for these little eggs, since clearly there is no keeping me away from those Sun Golds…
The nest is totally invisible from afar. And from up close! If the bird hadn’t flown out I may never have seen it while I plucked sweet perfect fruits from inches away.
Pretty nice spot to grow up.
Ok guys, get out of here. It’s summer. Class dismissed.