Foam Lake Birding No. 43

No. 43
In my last article, I had written about two birds, the Bridled Titmouse and Painted Bunting, which were unexpectedly observed in Saskatchewan in the recent past. Since then I have run across another report of a very unusual sighting of a bird so far out of its range that it should not have been seen in Canada, let alone Saskatchewan – the Great Kiskadee. (I wrote about it in Article 38). The Kiskadee, which was seen in Saskatoon in 1979, is a non-migratory bird found in the extreme southern end of Texas and nowhere else in North America. It most certainly must have been an escapee or perhaps a deliberate release. In any case, confirmed sightings of such wildly located (out of place) species are considered hypothetical and are not considered official records.
However, there are quite a few spring birds here already. Right now, in town, I have seen Robins, Crows, Merlins and swarms of Juncos. In rural areas Canada Geese, Bluebirds, Horned Larks and Tree Sparrows have been seen. The great thing is that there are many more to come.
This week, I had hoped to write about Horned Larks or Bluebirds or Tree Sparrows, but I do not have any photos of any of these so it will have to wait. Hopefully, things will work out next year.
Instead, I will offer up a few tidbits about a bird that should be here in about a week or so, and should be seen in just about everybody’s backyard in town. The Lincoln Sparrow is a transient that spends about three weeks in our area each spring from the last week of April to the first two weeks of May. Times vary depending on the spring. Then it moves further north to the Boreal Forest.
It is a nondescript bird that normally would be very difficult to identify, but for one thing: the sparrows that usually come into our backyards are quite easy to identify because of good easily recognizable field marks. All the other nondescript sparrows such as Vesper, Savannah, Song and Grasshopper, are in the rural areas. The Lincoln’s is a bit of a skulker and sticks close to the ground much like a mouse would. At this time of year even its skulking habits cannot prevent it from being seen as there is very little cover. Like other sparrows it does like to scratch in leaf litter to uncover food. With a little practice it is quite easy to identify. Binoculars are a great help, here! It has a quite distinctive grey face and side of head with a brown streak running through the eye. A head on view shows a grey crown line running lengthwise through a brown cap. Occasionally, it will sing around here. If it does, it will be perched on a branch only a foot or two above the ground. Its song resembles that of the House Wren. Listen for it.
Meanwhile, enjoy the arrival of the transient and summer birds. Some are here already and the rest will be flooding in shortly.