Then, in mid-October, the weather turned cold. Temperatures dropped to near freezing and we had a hard frost overnight. The air was still and we could see our breath when we visited nearby Les Arends Forest Preserve on the Fox River in Batavia. A slight breeze distorted the reflections in this slough along the west side of the river:
A cluster of Sky Blue Asters (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense), sheltered in the undergrowth, had survived the cold, but their days were numbered:
A few White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) were singing their distinctive lisping songs. They reminded me of the nights we spent in a little cabin deep in Denali National Park, Alaska. It was early June and the night sky remained deep blue all night. Around us, White-crowned Sparrows sang incessantly all night. As the light improved we watched them forage only inches away from our window screens.
There are several subspecies of White-crowned Sparrows. Those we saw in Alaska, such as this one, has white lores (the area in front of eye):
This is one of my favorite photos of this species, taken in Talkeetna, Alaska back in 2011:
This bird, photographed at Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, also exhibits white lores:
Four subspecies of this rather large sparrow are recognized, and intermediate forms are found where their ranges overlap. They are distinguished by presence or absence of black in their lores, bill color and other subtle plumage variations.
Two of the most widespread subspecies are depicted above. Zonotrichia l. leucophrys breeds in the central and eastern portion of far northern Canada and along the Rocky Mountain chain into Northern New Mexico. It has a pink bill and black lores and spends the winter all across the southern US, more commonly to the east.
While most of the White-crowned Sparrows around our second home in northeastern Illinois have dark lores, this one, seen at Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva, Illinois exhibited white lores:
My best photos of this species have been taken from the comfort of the back yard deck at our daughter's home in Batava, Illinois. They maintain several feeders and the birds are quite tame, often perching on the railing or furniture. Note that this bird has dark lores:
This one peers through their back yard fence:
So far I have shown only adult birds. For the first year of its life the streaks on its head and behind the eye are reddish brown rather than black, and the central crown stripe and those over its eyes are light tan rather than white:
White-crowned Sparrows are quite rarely seen in the southern tip of Florida. I was lucky to find and photograph them there on two occasions, in mid and late October two years in a row. All were immature birds. This one appeared on October 23, 2013, a year after my first sighting on October 18, 2012:
This immature visited our daughter's back yard in October, 2014:
This past week the feeders in our daughter's back yard had run out but there was some seed scattered on the deck. Two immature White-crowned Sparrows flew in and perched on the deck railing at eye level only about 4 feet from where I was sitting (photographing a junco in nearby tree).
They were too close to focus and also more than filled the viewfinder of my telescopic lens system, so I cautiously switched on the macro setting. One bird flew but the other remained for a few seconds, enough for a burst of close-ups:
Here is the Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco which was the initial object of my attention:
I have had difficulties with Blogger fonts and formatting and finally needed to re-write this blog using a default template, hence the difference in appearance.
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa).
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display