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Backyard Bird of the Month for July: Song Sparrow

The song of the male Song Sparrow is one of the most frequently-heard vocalizations across the continent. The exact song varies by region and individual, and individuals will often sing multiple distinct songs, but they always follow a discernable pattern: two to four introductory notes, followed by a trill, and then a jumble of quick notes and/or trills. The Song Sparrow singing out my window as I write this is mostly singing a song with three introductory notes, a clear, long trill, and a couple of notes to finish. They can be found singing this song throughout the year in Maine, though they are mostly concentrated in coastal and central Maine during the winter. They will nest in nearly any shrubby habitat, often at the edges of fields or meadows, where the female builds an open cup nest in dense cover. Watch for them foraging on the ground for a variety of insects, fruits, and seeds. Like most songbirds, they feed their young mainly insects, and often return to their nests with a mouthful of caterpillars. Even in July, they could still be nesting in your backyard: they regularly raise a second brood and sometimes even a third in one season. There is even a record of two experienced Song Sparrows in British Columbia raising four broods in 1981! By leaving leaves, tall grass, and “weeds” in your yard, you can create habitat for Song Sparrows to forage in and feed their own young.

Backyard Bird of the Month is a feature by Maine Audubon created for the Maine Home Garden News, the newsletter of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Garden and Yard