October is fall at its finest. The leaves are changing color and the weather is beginning to slip from summer’s warmth to winter’s cold. With these changing conditions comes the peak of fall migration, sending billions of birds southward. One bird species I particularly love to see each year and always associate with the fall is the the Lincoln’s Sparrow. Recently, Joe Verica discovered some excellent sparrow habitat on the south side of State College and was able to find incredible numbers of Lincoln’s Sparrows there with 12 on September 29th and 6 on September 30th. Ian Gardner and I were excited to bird the new hotspot, so we headed there this morning with our friend Ben Vizzachero who still needed Lincoln’s as a lifer.
We arrived a little before 8am and started working the hedgerows. Within a few minutes, we picked out a Lincoln’s mixed in with a few Song Sparrows. As we walked further more Song Sparrows plus Swamp Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and a few more Lincoln’s Sparrows appeared in the brush. A Magnolia Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo jumped up into view while Common Yellowthroats watched us walking past, hidden in the vegetation. More Lincoln’s Sparrow started appearing and soon we were seeing actual flocks of them! We made a careful, conservative count as we walked around the area making sure to try and keep tabs on where birds were and ended up finding 24 individual Lincoln’s Sparrows in 2 hours! I had never seen anything like this before, and not only were there a ton of Lincoln’s but they were also fairly tame and came in close to pishing. There were lots of opportunities for photos, but the lighting was a little difficult to work with as it was pretty overcast and the birds stayed down in the shade. Below are photos of 10 of the 24 individuals. I am hoping to get back over there soon, and try to get some nicer shots in brighter light but in the meantime I think this is a nice photo study of this handsome sparrow.
Alex is currently studying Wildlife Biology at the Pennsylvania State University. Alex is a traveling field ornithologist, most recently working for the Center for Conservation Biology, studying migrant Whimbrel and other coastal birds of Virginia's Eastern Shore. He has done field work across the US on everything from Yellow-billed Cuckoos to Long-billed Curlews.
An avid birder since 8 years old, Alex has since been able to travel not only across most of the United States, but also to Central America and Southern Africa in search birds. Raptors, shorebirds, and warblers are among his favorite groups of birds to observe and photograph.
Alex is obsessive about eBird, combing through the data to help out with Big Days and is also a budding wildlife photographer.