|Copyright: Jean Yves Bissonnette (JYB)
|Date Taken: 2008-05-30|
|Camera: Canon 30D, Canon 100-400L 4.5-5.6 IS USM|
|Exposure: f/5.6, 1/640 seconds|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2008-08-11 6:01|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
A common sparrow of backyards across North America, the Song Sparrow is readily recognized by its streaked breast and large central spot. It lives up to its name, being one of the most persistent singers throughout the spring and summer.
Chest streaked, with spot in center.
Two thick brown stripes on sides of whitish throat (malar stripes).
Long, rounded tail.
Grayish or whitish eyebrow.
Size: 12-17 cm (5-7 in)
Wingspan: 18-24 cm (7-9 in)
Weight: 12-53 g (0.42-1.87 ounces)
Sexes look alike.
Song is a varied series of two to six phrases, usually starting with several clear notes and then including buzzes, trills, or other complex notes. Call a husky "chimp."
Widespread and common in urban and suburban areas, so generally not of much concern. However, some California subspecies that use exclusively tidal marshes are vulnerable to habitat loss, and are listed as of special concern. Populations extirpated on several California Channel Islands.
Bruant [Pinson] chanteur (French)
Gorrión cantor (Spanish)
The Song Sparrow is found throughout most of North America, but different populations in different areas can look surprisingly different. Those found in the arid Southwest are lightly marked and pale while those in the Pacific Northwest are dark and heavily streaked. The sparrows found on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska are even darker, and are huge: one-third longer than the eastern birds, and weighing twice as much.
The range of the Song Sparrow is nearly continuous from the Aleutians to the eastern United States. However, the species is also found on the plateau of central Mexico, about 1500 km (930 mi) from the next closest population. The Song Sparrows of central Mexico have white throats and chests with black streaks.
Despite the large morphological differences between populations of Song Sparrows, genetic divergence is rather low. High rates of dispersal and gene flow may keep the populations genetically similar, but local selective conditions maintain the physical differences.
Like many other songbirds, the male Song Sparrow uses its song to attract mates as well as defend its territory. Laboratory studies have shown that the female Song Sparrow is attracted not just to the song itself, but to how well it reflects the ability of the male to learn. Males that used more learned components in their songs and that better matched their song tutors (the adult bird they learned their songs from) were preferred.
The Song Sparrow, like most other North American breeding birds, uses increasing day length as a cue for when to come into breeding condition. But, other cues can be important too, such as local temperature and food abundance. A study found that male Song Sparrows from the coast of Washington state came into breeding condition two months earlier than Song Sparrows in the nearby mountains, where the daylight changes were the same, but temperatures were cooler and trees budded out two months later.
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