07.07.24: Full of song

Some of my favorite bird photos are my shots of Song Sparrows singing atop tall plants or shrubs in fields. The birds throw their heads back and belt out their song. 

Song Sparrow common sight across U.S.

The Song Sparrow is one of the most common and most familiar North American sparrows. If you see a brown streaky bird fly by there’s a good chance it’s a Song Sparrow.

In general, a Song Sparrow’s feathers are a rich brown and gray with a streaky brown and white chest, but this can vary among the more than 50 forms of Song Sparrows described by ornithologists. I’ve photographed a number of Song Sparrows with heads that are more brown and white — like this one seen in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park north of Columbus, Ohio — than brown and gray as described in the various field guides.

Song Sparrows are year-round residents in Ohio and can often be seen visiting feeders on snow-covered winter days.

Some of my favorite bird photos are my shots of Song Sparrows singing atop tall plants or shrubs in fields. The birds throw their heads back and belt out their song. 

This one wasn’t atop the plant — the stem wasn’t sturdy enough for it to move much further up — but it was still high enough to stand above surrounding plants in the field. The bird would look around for a minute or so, then start singing. It would pause again for another minute or so, then sing again. 

According to my favorite bird information website, All About Birds, a Song Sparrow’s song serves multiple purposes: “Like many other songbirds, the male Song Sparrow uses its song to attract mates as well as defend its territory. Laboratory studies have shown that the female Song Sparrow is attracted not just to the song itself, but to how well it reflects the ability of the male to learn. Males that used more learned components in their songs and that better matched their song tutors (the adult bird they learned their songs from) were preferred.”

I liked how the bird stands out against the blurred green background. The blur (or bokeh, in photography terminology) is created when the subject of the photo — in this case, the sparrow — is closer to the camera than it is to the background.  The curve of the plant stem pulls the viewer’s eye to the bird’s location.

A Song Sparrow sings in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Song Sparrow sings in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Jun 3, 2018 9:04 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF600mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 
  • Focal length: 840mm
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/1250 second
  • ISO: 400

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