Guess who flew in for dinner?

By Catherine Bushueff

A rare winter visitor came by last week.

After the big (20″) snow on January 12th, a Fox Sparrow appeared in my backyard (in Sunapee)…and visited for five consecutive days.

Its large size, colorful stripes, and “double scratching” or kicking back behavior under the feeder quickly catches one’s eye.

From midday to late afternoon, the sparrow was seen under the two feeders scratching up seed in the snow.

A rare treat

Sighting a Fox Sparrow in winter and summer is “very rare” says Becky Suomala, a biologist with New Hampshire Audubon. Occasional winter sightings in New Hampshire are reported. However, they are more common during the spring and fall migration.

In the Lake Sunapee area, the Christmas Bird Count has included seeing a Fox Sparrow only once in 20 years, according to Gary Stansfield, the coordinator for the local count. Two were reported in 2000.

And in reviewing NH’s Rare Bird Alert log, there are few Fox Sparrow entries. Someone in Penacook entered a single sighting on December 19, 2010.

Backyard birding

Perhaps you’re a backyard birder as well.

Note: There are two bird surveys coming up in February.

“Biologists need assistance from citizens all over the Granite State to get a clear picture of what’s really happening with our winter birds,” said Suomala, the Audubon survey coordinator.

For Audubon’s weekend survey, anyone can participate by counting the birds in their own backyard on the survey weekend and sending the results on a special reporting form to NH Audubon.

To receive a copy of the reporting form and instructions on how to take part, send a self-addressed, stamped, long envelope to: New Hampshire Audubon, Winter Bird Survey, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, NH 03301

Or you can get the form via the NH Audubon web site ( under the Birding page, which offers an array of resources.

One Response

  1. […] Also, NH Audubon’s Backyard Winter Bird Survey is coming up…February 12 and 13, 2011. (Read more via Sunapee News article: Guess who flew in for dinner?) […]

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