Another sparrow sweep

2005 December 12
by David J. Ringer

THE METROPLEX, TEXAS — I sat down by the back door to eat my cereal this morning, and I was shocked to see that the seed bell was no longer hanging where it had for weeks. The paper clip chain was shorter than usual, so I suspect that a fox squirrel leapt onto the bell, breaking the chain and sending the bell (and the squirrel?) down three stories to the ground below. It must have been a sight.

When I finished eating, I stepped out onto the balcony and looked over the railing. I could not see the seed bell anywhere. Perhaps a maintenance worker had already carried it away. Well, it’s a good riddance, I guess. I will not make any further attempts at bird feeding while I live here.

I noticed, while on the porch, that our resident pigeon has made a horrible mess on the pavement. I immediately constructed a pointy hat of tinfoil for the light fixture. I hope the piebald bird will take a hint and move along.

I ended up doing a lot of driving today, trying to tie up some loose ends for my PNG visa application. Coming up 1382 just after four, I saw hundreds of cormorants streaming toward Joe Pool Lake in large, irregular V’s.

As the sun set, I pulled into a parking lot at River Legacy. Three egrets had flown over on my way in, and gulls were leaving the landfill, headed who knows where. A red-tail flew low over the field, and a cardinal and a Carolina Wren carried on in the brush.

A Song Sparrow barked somewhere ahead of me, and then a large sparrow flew into view with a high, thin call. It didn’t sound like a Song Sparrow, I thought as I lifted my binocs, but perhaps that was a flight call.

But there was the sooty face and pink bill of a Harris’s Sparrow. And a another! The pair didn’t stay still for long, but I watched them until they disappeared.

I trudged around through the crunchy brown vegetation, seeing a few Song Sparrows as I looped back toward the parking lot.

An insistent call pulled me toward a brushy area, and in the fading light, I just barely saw a bird fly up into a small tree. White-crowned Sparrow. Gorgeous.

I took a few steps closer. More birds flushed.

On the left, two striking white-morph white-throats. Then a Harris’s. And, was it? Yes, the white-crowned was still in its spot to the right. Incredible. First the Melospizas, and now the eastern Zonotrichias.

The Harris’s barely gave me time to be excited, quickly flushing deeper into the brush.

I stayed by the edge, tantalized by movement, rustling, and calls. But the light was too far gone. A woman showed up with her dog, and I headed for home, aware that my sweatshirt wasn’t quite enough to fend off the evening’s chill.

Related posts:

  1. Winged distractions
  2. Chilly evening on the dam
  3. All-the-time birds
  4. Counting Canvasbacks and cormorants
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