Avian Jukebox?

Perhaps you’ve seen or heard a Song Sparrow today, it would not surprise me if you’d say yes,  because this sparrow is more likely to be the most abundant in North America where is a native bird.

They have been residents of my backyard from the first day that I moved to my Georgia home. I noticed them just when I had flower pots in my patio and saw something scurrying  between the pots, I thought that we had a mice problem until I realized that looking closely it was birds (Song Sparrows) instead! I call them the “mice” of the backyard. Here is more information:

Although they are a habitat generalist, their favorite habitat is brushy areas and marshes, including salt marshes, across most of Canada and the United States. They also thrive in human areas, such as in suburbs, along edges in agricultural areas, and along roadsides. In southern locations, they are permanent residents. Northern birds migrate to the southern United States or Mexico, where there is also a local population resident all year round. The song sparrow is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, with a few recorded in Great Britain and Norway.

These birds forage on the ground, in shrubs or in very shallow water. They mainly eat insects and seeds. Birds in salt marshes may also eat small crustaceans. They nest either in a sheltered location on the ground or in trees or shrubs.

The sparrow species derives it name from its colorful repertoire of songs. Enthusiasts report that one of the songs heard often in suburban locations closely resembles the opening four notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. The male uses a fairly complex song to declare ownership of its territory and attract females.

Song sparrows typically learn their songs from a handful of other birds that have neighboring territories. They are most likely to learn songs that are shared in common between these neighbors. Ultimately, they will choose a territory close to or replacing the birds that they have learned from. This allows the song sparrows to address their neighbors with songs shared in common with those neighbors. It has been demonstrated that song sparrows are able to distinguish neighbors from strangers on the basis of song, and also that females are able to distinguish (and prefer) their mate’s songs from those of other neighboring birds, and they prefer songs of neighboring birds to those of strangers.


Photo Gallery


Text and photographs © HJ Ruiz – Avian101

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18 thoughts on “Avian Jukebox?

    • It may sound strange to you but when song birds are in company of other birds, they do not sing as much as if they would be alone or with very few birds. Thank you Jet! 🙂

  1. Very interesting post Avian. I did not know your Song Sparrow mimicked other birds, similar to some of our birds. Do they sound exactly like the bird they mimick or is it just a copy in their own voice? Thanks for sharing this, our sparrows are very ordinary migrants from Britain.

    • Good question! They do learn the other birds songs but not to mimic them as a Mockingbird would (exact copy). Thank you Ashley! 🙂

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