Tuesday, December 16, 2014

American Tree Sparrow

It's always nice to see family out-of-state, and visiting another state has an entirely different meaning to the list-obsessed birder. I recently visited Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, and of course I was obliged to do a little birding. So I couldn't help but to head to one of the birdiest spots in the Cincinnati area, Armleder Park. I had one target - American Tree Sparrow. These subtle little birds are a common sight up north, but are very rare as far south as North Carolina. And just as American Tree Sparrows seldom stray southward, I seldom stray northward, and thus our paths had yet to cross. As a sparrow-loving birder (don't ever call them LBJs, ever), I knew I couldn't miss an opportunity to see one.

It took a little while wandering around the park to spot the Sparrow. It was snowing. Like, there were snowflakes. It was cold (for me at least). Trudging along through the polar tundra that is southern Ohio, there were some new state birds to be had - White-crowned Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse - but I was afraid we'd strike out. Luckily, towards the end of the walk, we finally found two of the targets. One stayed out in the open just long enough to snap a photo and observe some of its finer details. I usually like to write about strikingly beautiful or rare birds, but there is something to be said for the American Tree Sparrow. They're subtle, but pretty awesome in their own unique way. In the words of Bob Dylan, if you're traveling in the north country fair, where the winds hit heavy on the borderline, remember me to one who lives there: the American Tree Sparrow. At least I think that's what he said, I was too busy looking for Rough-legged Hawks while that song was playing on the car ride home.