Birds of the Western Slope Mar. 22, 2017

By Evelyn Horn

Birds of the Western Slope Mar. 22, 2017 | Evelyn Horn, Birds of the Western Slope,

This photo of a white-throated sparrow, with a tan stripe, was taken by Bob Clarke at the Grand Junction Wildlife Area on Feb. 19.


What a pretty little bird! And I've never met one! That would be a treat for me, but the range maps show that he lives out of our range (more's the pity).

But my books have information about this pretty bird (nearly seven inches long). First there are two styles. One is white-striped (WS) and the other is tan-striped (TS). So I'd guess that the one pictured would be a tan-striped (looks yellow to me!) In Sybil's Guide to Western Birds, the white-throated sparrow male may vary from white to tan. The bill is gray and this one's breast looks to be a clear gray. And the obvious white throat is diagnostic.

The female builds the cup-shaped nest in a low shrub. She lays three to six eggs and incubates them for about 14 days. The chicks are "altricial" or we could say that they are helpless; down-less, eyes closed and must be fed. But they fledge within 12 days which is very rapid growth.

The Birders' Handbook states that the white-striped female sings and the tan-striped one doesn't sing. The males seek an "opposite colored" female and so would mate with the non-singing tan-striped female. And the male white-striped may sing during the night. Their diet includes spiders, millipedes, snails and seeds.

They nest in Canada, winter into northeastern Mexico and migration includes our area. But I've never met a white-throated sparrow! So, maybe someday?

And I thank Bob for the use of his excellent photograph.