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White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

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Early Spring Songs (South Texas)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in south Texas are White-throated Sparrow, Cassin's Sparrow, and Purple Martin (left). And spring songs are breaking out all over the country. Listen to the songs of these early spring... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Interview with Jeff Wells

Dr. Jeff Wells, senior scientist with the Boreal Songbird Initiative, has published The Birder's Conservation Handbook. With profiles of 100 North American birds at risk, Dr. Wells also offers suggestions that can help stem the decline of birds - including this White-throated Sparrow - which nest... read more »


Bird Songs of April

The month of April inspires poets, sometimes with contradictory results. Poet TS Eliot describes April as "the cruelest month." Shakespeare strikes an upbeat note, writing "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." Let April speak for itself. Listen to the birds. In Southeastern Alaska,... read more »


Voices and Vocabularies - Three Hidden Sparrows

Some birds have a remarkable knack for staying out of sight. Often we don’t know they’re nearby, until they sing. But with a little practice, we can learn to identify birds without seeing them. Listen to the songs of the Song Sparrow, the Chipping Sparrow, and the White-throated Sparrow — like... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

Birdsong, Music, and Neuroscience

Brain imaging studies have shown that hearing enjoyable music “lights up” the mesolimbic reward pathway in the human brain. But how does a bird experience a song from its own species? Scientists at Emory University found a similar pattern in the sparrow’s brain. Female White-throated Sparrows,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

Late Fall Sounds to Listen For

By the time November rolls around, the bird songs of summer can seem a distant memory.But there’s always something to listen for. Small birds like chickadees and kinglets, including the Golden-crowned Kinglet pictured here, often mix in flocks while foraging. Geese can be heard overhead in the... read more »


New Sam Peabody

In late winter, White-throated Sparrows erupt into song, easily set to human words: “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” Or “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.” But something changed since those classic memory aids were coined. Sixty years later, the bird sings a simpler, shorter song. Bird song,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Welcoming Back Winter Birds

Although we may think of autumn as the end of the growing season, a sort of winding down in the natural world, for birds it’s as much a season of renewal as the spring. In the colder months, we welcome back our winter birds — juncos, swans, and more — which spent the summer in their breeding... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching