Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the lark sparrow.
The lark sparrow is the largest of the brownish sparrows that we see here. It is one of the many birds known as passerines, a diverse group that includes half of all bird species. Passerines are perching birds, with three toes pointing forward and one backward, a trait all share.
The lark sparrow displays the typical streaked brown back that we associate with the word sparrow. Its unstreaked, light-colored breast has a central dark spot. Head markings made up of a white throat, eyebrow and center stripe, and black lines which divide the chestnut red head make this bird look like it is wearing a helmet.
This is a bird of open, grassy habitat and bare ground punctuated by some trees and shrubs. It will often forage in the open for the seeds, grains and insects in its diet.
The “lark” in its name refers to its long melodius songs made up of churrs, buzzes and trills. In breeding season, competing males will engage in battles on the ground and in the air. However, in the presence of a female, the male will strut like a turkey, with head down and long, dark tail flared to display the white edges. Their breeding dance includes passing a twig from one bird to the other.
Look for these birds in our area into October before they move south for the winter.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org andwww.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on September 16, 2019.