THINK BIRDS! I’m reminded of that by the imminent start of the annual Project FeederWatch on Saturday (November 10), and also by a certain pair of sparrows nibbling at the fallen seeds in the cracks between my patio stones lately. I’m not so good with sparrows—like many of the gray and yellowish warblers, they often look alike to me, unless I really concentrate—but when I saw them again today I told myself: This will be the year I get the local sparrows straight. “The Sibley Guide to Birds” helped me ID my visitors, and got me thinking: maybe you’d like a copy of the book, too (or another Sibley guide if you have this one)? The latest giveaway.
My visitors are white throated sparrows, Zonotrichia albicollis, distinctive for their (surprise!) white throats and clean, crisp markings around the face. All I had to do was really look instead of saying to myself just “sparrow” and failing to take the time—in this case through a pair of binoculars–and then do a little reading in the Sibley book and online as well, because part of what had confused me was how some among them were differently marked than others, sort of same-but-different.
Apparently it’s just the normal variation in the species, which has two distinct “morphs.” Or so says the website of David Sibley, whose “The Sibley Guide to Birds” you can win by following the details in the box at the bottom of this story.
learning about birds: some resources
BUT BEFORE YOU ENTER the giveaway, some other ways to connect and learn about all birds, and especially those most familiar ones, those who stay behind year-round (or arrive in time from somewhere less favorable) to settle in and spend the winter with us:
- All About Birds (the best online guide to bird species, from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
- Telling tricky birds apart (some commonly confused species)
- About feeding birds (from Project FeederWatch)
- Join Project FeederWatch (a winter-long bird survey)
- Join ebird.org (to report your observations in realtime anytime)
- How to make a bird-friendly garden
- How to save birds by preventing window strikes
how to win the sibley guide
TO ENTER TO WIN a copy of “The Sibley Guide to Birds” by David Allen Sibley (or your choice of a Sibley guide if you already have this one), all you have to do is this:
Comment below by telling us whether you feed birds in winter, year round, or not at all, and what species is your favorite to watch (or any other highlight you wish to share about birds in your garden).
I feed year-round—more feeders in winter, and just one small one in spring through early fall (yes, risking a visit by bear, I know). I feed sunflower seed and in the cold months big blocks of beef suet from the butcher shop. I provide unfrozen water year-round (those are waxwings at my frog pond in snow in the above photo)—and most of all, the garden, which is loaded with bird-friendly plants year-round, and in which I use no chemicals of any kind. As far as favorites? I am crazy about woodpeckers.
What about you? (Feeling shy, and don’t want to say? You can simply say, “Count me in,” and I will—but if you have something to share, all the better.)
I’ll choose one winner at random after entries close at midnight Wednesday, November 14. Good luck to all!