Pete Dunne, a well known birder and author of many books on birds once said, “White-throated Sparrows come in two plumages – stunning and shabby.” In the fall one is more apt to see the shabby variety, but chances are also good that a smartly marked adult will be nearby.
The White-throated Sparrow is a bird of the woods, a habitat that is not favored by other sparrows. It can be fun to watch a White-throated Sparrow kick with both feet to uncover prey at Consecration Dell in Mount Auburn Cemetery. White-throats tend to gather together while scratching through the leaf litter, searching for food on the ground under in the Dell.
Every year, the White-throated Sparrow returns to Mount Auburn in late September and can be quite numerous into late November. The number of sparrows drops with the first snow.
There is a big build-up of White-throated Sparrows in April during their northward migration. Their song is loud and distinct, a series of whistled notes often paraphrased as “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody” or “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada”. The last migrants go through Mount Auburn by the second week in May.
Mount Auburn Cemetery is an important wildlife refuge – ecologically rich, botanically diverse and increasingly vital as a large, undisturbed open space in a highly developed urban area. A wide variety of wildlife visits or lives within Mount Auburn’s 175 acres and has been doing so since before the Cemetery was founded in 1831.
Photo by Jeremiah Trimble.