Sunday, December 9, 2018

LeConte's Sparrow

This morning Barry Noret and I birded the east half of Lake Creek Trail, starting at the Parmer Village pond. The most exciting bird we found was this beautiful little LeConte's Sparrow in the tall grass along the trail between this pond and the last dam. I got these two mediocre photos. (Unfortunately it was before the sun came out.)

LeConte's Sparrow - 4

LeConte's Sparrow - 2

LeConte's Sparrow is a grassland species and like most grassland species, it is in decline due to habitat loss. (Its population has declined over 70% since 1966 when the USGS Breeding Bird Survey started monitoring it.) As far as I know, this bird hasn't been seen on Lake Creek Trail since 2010, when coincidentally, Barry Noret found it. It was my 200th species to observe on the trail back then and I can't believe it has been almost 8 years since I've been able to see it here again.

The only reason it's here is because we are very lucky to have a patch of native grasses along the creek that includes Switchgrass, Indian Grass, Little Bluestem, Silver Bluestem, Side-oats gramma, and more that I don't know how to identify yet. I encourage everyone to walk the east side of Lake Creek Trail and see this grassland. With all the rain we've had this fall it's beautiful right now! Here's a photo of most little bluestem here I took way back in 2010:

Grassy Creekside

On the Parmer Village pond, we found the first wild duck I've seen on Lake Creek Trail this season, this male American Wigeon:

American Wigeon

We saw two more fly over us near the last dam.

We ended up finding 40 species of birds. Here's our complete list on eBird.

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