Featured Sanctuary Bird: American tree sparrow

In preparation for the Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 14-17), we are featuring theAmerican Tree Sparrow! This plump bird has a long tail, and is a frequent backyard visitor in the snowy months. After winter, these sparrows fly north to their cold breeding grounds in the tundra.

American Tree Sparrows are often found in small flocks on the ground, feeding on weeds or seeds. You might find an individual perched on shrubs, stalks, or low tree branches.

With plenty of prairie and hedgerow habitat provided, as well as a constant supply of mixed birdseed (sunflower, millet, and cracked corn) spread onto the ground in several locations, our Goose Pond Sanctuary has become an ideal location for this winter species. In February, there were more than 130 American Tree Sparrows at our feeders!

But you don't need to travel far to see these rusty-capped birds. Take just 15 minutes this weekend to watch a nearby feeder, and you may spot this sparrow! Then, reporting your sightings to eBird completes your very own Great Backyard Bird Count. With this data, scientists are able to better investigate migration trends, distribution, and habitat, and you get to learn more about the birds in your area. Don’t have a backyard? The Great Backyard Bird Count can be done in a park or local neighborhood area. Get started!

Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar, Flickr Creative Commons