Study What is Common

by Bryce W. Robinson


Song Sparrow- Melospiza melodia.

Study what is common. I’ve heard this piece of advice many times, and I think it is one of the most important keys to becoming a better birder. I’m a relatively inexperienced birder, and I’ve been seeing a lot of progress in my birding in the last year. I believe my growth has come solely on my conscious decision to stop and study every bird I see, even those that are around me everyday.

I see the Song Sparrow- Melospiza melodia, daily. I know the bird well, but I still seem to learn something every time I’m watching and listening to them. The more you watch, the more you notice, and there is so much satisfaction in that discovery.

The Song Sparrow flocks I have been around lately have been very diverse in plumage. The diversity in plumage is a function of their different subspecies. I’d like to learn the appearance of each subspecies, so that I can better understand where the individuals I interact with during the winter breed. I’ve done so with the Dark-eyed Junco, and I really enjoy seeing mixed flocks of individuals from completely separate populations. Some of the most satisfying moments in my birding lately have been finding birds that are out of their expected range, and having the background knowledge to understand how far out of the way they’ve wandered.