Grasshopper Sparrows

The day started off pretty well. I led a bird walk at the David Weld Sanctuary in Nissequogue with some friends. Despite the lack of migration movement the typical, site faithful breeders were in and put on a nice show. My first of season Common Terns were working the outside of the Nissequogue River, calling and dipping into the shallow bar. The wind was calm this morning and it looked like a perfect day to be out on the Sound. I was envious of the terns. We were eventually seen off by a female Orchard Oriole near the parking area. The morning ended just a bit too quickly and I was off to Calverton Ponds Preserve where some minor trail work needed to be taken care of. I decided to swing by the grasslands in Calverton, also known as EPCAL. EPCAL sits just north of the preserve, seperated by Grumman Boulevard. There is a section of grassland along the north end of Grumman Boulevard where one can pull off to the shoulder and have a decent view of the landscape. My interest was to see if the Grasshopper Sparrows might have returned to their breeding grounds. Grasshopper Sparrows need a significant amount of grassland habitat in order to breed. EPCAL is one of Long Island's few remaining, in tact grasslands and still remains as a breeding stronghold for this species.
Grasshopper Sparrow - Photo taken in Calverton, NY on 5/7/13
iScoped with Meostar S2 Spotting Scope and Meopix Adapter
Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), like other members of its genus, have a soft, insect-like song. They are not always easy to hear therefore it helps to have birds singing nearby. As I walked toward the chain link, barb wired fence, I heard it. There was a singing Grasshopper Sparrow within very close proximity to my position. Two additional birds responded from separate locations and I waited patiently for one to choose a prominent perch. If you're lucky, one will pose for you on top of the fence, which is not an unusual case if that feature is nearby. I didn't have to wait very long until one of the birds perched up for me and sang its heart out. The video below, while not the best quality, provides a look a singing Grasshopper Sparrow and lends its song.

video


This is not a rare bird for this location, but I really enjoy sparrows as a group and I'm particularly fond of the Ammodramus genus. They can be challenging to locate and normally offer little more than just a quick glimpse. Ammodramus sparrows are found specifically in grassland type habitats with birds specializing in either wet or dry meadows. Grasshoppers are found in the drier type habitats, Seaside and Saltmarsh in wet, etc. Grasshopper Sparrow is a welcomed 226th bird of the year for me in New York State.
Grasshopper Sparrow - Photo taken in Calverton, NY on 5/7/13
iScoped with Meostar S2 Spotting Scope and Meopix Adapter

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