Skagit Audubon

Watching birds, protecting habitat, connecting with nature

BACKYARD BIRDS, by Mary Sinker

I’m not shy to admit that, as a group, Sparrows can be difficult to identify.  Often varying shades of brown, with or without stripes and other distinguishing markings, it can be tough to sort them out.  Enter the White-crowned Sparrow who stands out, dressed as he is in his smart black-and-white crown (both sexes have the back-and-white crown).  These sparrows are common winter birds from Sept.-April throughout North American yards and parks, and are easily attracted to feeders serving sunflower seeds.  They also eat a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, beetles and wasps as well as some fruits. 

WhiteCrownedSparrowMarySinker1Most White-crowned Sparrows breed in open or scrubby habitats, tundra, alpine meadows or forest edges where bare ground and grasses are present in abundance.  Nests are placed from 1 to 10 ft. high up in shrubs and in the Arctic they nest right on the ground, the nest hidden among the moss and lichens on the tundra.  These long-distance migrants don’t waste time when they arrive on their breeding grounds.  They pair up quickly and have 1-3 broods with 3-7 eggs in each brood.  After raising their young, the pairs break up and winter separately; however, about 2/3 of the pairs will reunite the following season if both members of the pair return to the same breeding area.   Photo of White-crowned Sparrow by Mary Sinker.  More info:


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Skagit Audubon Society holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month except for the months of July and August. We meet at 7:00 pm at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center(Google map), 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. Mount Vernon. Meetings are open to all.

The board of directors meets at the same location at 7:00 pm on the first Tuesday of each month, except for the months of July and August.