Thursday, October 30, 2008

Black-throated Sparrow

On this day in 1961, a Black-throated Sparrow showed up at a feeder maintained by Mrs. H. MacKenzie near New Brunswick in Middlesex County. According to John Bull, who did the writeup in the Auk, "She reported that it fed on marigold seeds as well as a mixture of 'wild bird' feed," (in case you have any ideas about getting Black-throated Sparrows at your feeder this winter). The bird stayed until 23 April of the following year and was seen by "hundreds" (Bull, again) of birders. There have been two more accepted records of Black-throated Sparrows in the state since then, both starting in mid-December: one in 1974-1975 and another in 1992-1993.

The bottom line is that most birds that visit feeders are the expected ones, but way-out-of-range birds are in no position to shun feeders and a fair number of rarities over the years have turned up in this situation.

Bull, John L. 1963. Black-throated Sparrows in the eastern United States. Auk 80:379-380. PDF here

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