10 Things you might not know about the White-throated Sparrow.

Day 9 of 100 Days of Blogging

The White-throated Sparrow starts off our new Sparrow of the Week feature. The White-throated is one of the 18 species of New-World sparrows on the PQSPB local checklist. Thirteen of those species are known to breed in our area, which works out perfectly to highlight one breeding Sparrow species each week till the end of our countdown! Besides, since the Song Sparrow is the BPQ mascot, sparrows had to be included into our Countdown Blog somehow!

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

French: Bruant à gorge blanche   Family: Emberizidae.

Did you know ?

#1. The McGill Bird Observatory (MBO ) reports that the White-throated Sparrow is one of the most abundantly observed species at its Banding Station in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec. They experience a strong migration in spring and especially in fall, plus small numbers are observed most years during both summer and winter.

#2. Both sexes of this species exhibit plumage polymorphism : white-striped (WS) and tan-striped (TS) morphs. This is most obvious in the breeding season and pairings are usually with the opposite colour morph. 

#3. The song of the White-throated Sparrow sounds like it is  whistling Old Sam Peabody or Oh Sweet Canada. Males of both morphs and WS females sing; TS females rarely sing.

Play the media file below to hear the White-throated Sparrow song.

#4.  White throated Sparrows breed primarily in the boreal coniferous and mixed forests east of the Rockies in Canada and in New England. Some breeding range extends west of the Rockies into Northern British Columbia.

#5. It is not usually a species that is out in the open and prefers edge habitat that offers thick cover.

#6.  The yellow lores of the White-throated are the result of pigments known as carotenoids which are acquired through its diet. Carotenoids are only found in plants and responsible for the red, orange, and yellow colouring in birds.

#7.  The White-throated is a short-distance, nocturnal migrant. It winters mainly in the southeastern United States. There is evidence that Females winter further south than males.

#8.  During winter and migration it forages on the ground in loose flocks. The White-throated Sparrow is adept at scratching and is able to find seeds deeply buried in leaf litter. It can also kick leaf litter out of the way with some fancy footwork, kicking out 1-4 times with both feet!

#9.  Insects, supplemented with greens and fruit, are its main food source during the summer. In late summer and fall fruits become a primary part of its diet. During winter it eats small seeds and fruits and insects if it can find any.

#10. The White-throated is not a species likely to be observed drinking in the wild, obtaining its required water intake from food, dew, or rain.