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American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)

Posted on Dec 22, 2014

Here is an American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) that I photographed during my hometown Christmas Bird Count in Stratford, Connecticut yesterday, part of a flock of perhaps 15 individuals that were staying mostly out of sight. I made sure to take the photo because it was feeding on Common Reed (Phragmites australis), one of the most notorious non-native invasive plants in North America. American Tree Sparrows are well-known as seed eaters and can often be found at the top of weeds and grasses, but I do not personally remember seeing them feeding on the “phrag” before. I wonder how nutritious it is (or isn’t) for them compared to some of our other native vegetation. To make this photo an even greater separation from reality I should tell you that this was in a landfill…sometimes what we don’t see or choose to ignore can be very powerful in itself. It certainly felt like a mesmerizing scene on the solstice. Who said winter can’t be beautiful? You do not even need snow!

American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) feeding on Common Reed (Phragmites Australis) Christmas Bird Count Stratford 2014-0236-2

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator