Monday, March 26, 2007

Magee area Fox Sparrows

The Lake Erie shoreline in northwestern Ohio at the end of March has to be the best place and time in the world for seeing Fox Sparrows. Today (Monday March 26th), Rick Nirschl reported seeing or hearing about 70 Fox Sparrows along the bird trail at Magee Marsh. I only spent a brief time along the west end of the boardwalk so I only saw about 20 Fox Sparrows there, but I had another 50-plus in thickets along the Wildlife Beach, about a quarter-mile east of the east end of the boardwalk. So there are clearly a lot of individuals around. This kind of concentration would be considered quite unusual in most places; Fox Sparrow is usually uncommon everywhere, seen in small numbers, seldom more than a dozen in a day.

The last couple of springs at this time I've been interested to see how the migrating Fox Sparrows are concentrated along the immediate lake shore. Even a mile or two to the south, far fewer individuals are seen. These migrant birds seem quite shy, flushing well away from the boardwalk at Magee, so it takes some careful attention to even notice that they're around, but they're beautiful enough to be worth the effort. Today a number of the Fox Sparrows were doing partial versions of their musical, haunting song, even in what I could only describe as the heat of the afternoon.

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