A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

First Flight

This is the time of year that millions of birds, of hundreds of different species, begin their annual flight south for greener pastures and warmer weather.  All of these birds have not made this flight before, in fact a fair amount, have only known the world for several months and only know the area around their nest.  These juveniles are like human children in a way, they are wide eyed and inexperienced.  They don’t fly with the same direction as the adults they don’t know the best feeding methods and they don’t always avoid predators as easily. I found the remains (a bunch of feathers) of a White-throated Sparrow in my back yard last week.

These inexperienced juveniles were raised in the expansive northern woods of Minnesota and Canada.  For many of them my backyard could very well be their first experience with wide spread human influences.  This artificial world is filled with hazards from house cats to ‘green’ wind turbines (generating electricity with no cost to the environment, except a few hundred dead birds…).  One large obstacle that must be very confusing is windows.  I dread hearing that solid ‘thud’ on my windows at home.  I usually run outside and survey the damage.  Last week while in my kitchen I heard the dreaded sound and investigated.  I found this juvenile White Throated Sparrow, dazed and confused.

He was not injured more that the sudden shock that he could not fly through that mysteriously reflective window.  I took him up to the deck where he sat and recovered while I practiced hand drill (primitive fire starting technique).  He watched as a I made two coals and allowed me to get some really cool pictures.

Eventually he stood up and watched me practice, to the point that I thought he was even curious about what I was all about and what the heck just happened.   After about a half hour he finally decided he had enough make a quick jump and gracefully swooped toward the lilac thicket.  It was a cool experience to be that close to the bird for a moment.  I only hope it is his last encounter with a window!

The white throat on this juvenile has not filled in as it would be in adults.  The crown with the conspicuous yellow brows is still coming in too!  I often hear, what I assume are the juveniles, ‘practicing’ their iconic call in the morning.  It sounds a bit off key and a little raspy but it is certainly a White Throated Sparrow.


Up Next:  Same thing, only with a Yellow Warbler!


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