White-throated SparrowZonotrichia albicollis (Gmelin)
Status Common in summer, uncommon in winter. Breeds. Spring arrivals can be detected readily in localities where birds have not wintered. They may first appear at any time during April (average 16 April, earliest 28 March), evidently influenced by weather patterns and seasonal conditions. Large numbers normally occur widely in late April and the first half of May. In summer it is found in woodland regions, both on the fringe of settlement and as far removed from human abode as geography permits. In fall, small flocks and, occasionally, very large movements may be recorded from mid-September through October, sometimes into November. Many attempt to winteró1,044 were recorded on the Broad Cove, Lunenburg County, Christmas Bird Count on 29 December 1976. Wintering birds come frequently to feeding stations, especially during snowy periods.
Description Length: 16-17 cm. Adults: White or tan stripe through centre of crown, bordered with wide black stripes; a yellow spot before the eye; a white or tan stripe on side of head; back rich brown, streaked with black, bordered with light gray; wing with two narrow white bars; underparts gray, whiter on belly; throat patch pure white.
Breeding Nest: Made of coarse grass, mosses and fern stalks, lined with soft grass, hair or both; on the ground in open glades or bushy pasturelands, well concealed among brakes, under the edge of brush or under slash left by loggers. Eggs: 3-5, usually 4; pale blue or bluish green, evenly speckled or sometimes washed or blotched with various shades of brown. Laying begins about mid-May and continues into early June. I have examined 16 nests with laying completed. Twelve contained 4 eggs, two held 5 and the other two had 3 each. The earliest date for a full set is 18 May. In the past, when nests were located near settlement, their lining was usually horse hair; in areas remote from habitation, deer hair was commonly used. The nests mentioned above were all located in Kings and Annapolis counties.
Breeds from central Mackenzie Valley and southeastern Yukon, northern Manitoba and central Quebec, south to the northeastern United States, southern Ontario and central Alberta. Winters from southern Manitoba to Nova Scotia, south to the Gulf Coast and northeastern Mexico.
Remarks Of all bird songs heard in our woods, probably none is more widely known than the white-throat's, yet relatively few people know the name of the performer when they hear him. This bird's song is its outstanding characteristic: It is sweet and plaintive, with perhaps a touch of melancholy. The scale is highly variable but usually begins with two long, flute-like notes followed by a series of clear, whistled cadences, tremulous and vibrating, which gradually weaken at the end. The most fitting translation of its song seems to be I love Canada-Canada-Canada, by which it has come to be known as the "Canada-bird." Other listeners, influenced by another interpretation of the song, call it "Old Sam Peabody."
Its summer food is largely insects, but winter stragglers are almost wholly dependent on seeds.
It resembles the White-crowned Sparrow, but that bird lacks the yellow spot before the eye and the conspicuous white throat patch that mark the White-throated Sparrow.
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