During the breeding season, male white-throateds merrily sing all day long from brushy woods and lightly wooded thickets.
Delicate pink legs, a splash of bright yellow around the bill and a grayish beak, set the white-throated sparrow apart from other sparrows. The yellow is more understated in the fall, but in the spring it’s a brilliant flash between the beak and eyes. The birds look like they’re dressed for dinner, wearing a white cravat at the base of their necks.
There are two color “morphs:” a tan-stripe and a white-stripe. The blackish-tan stripes are set against a duller tan, whereas the white-striped morph has brilliant white stripes set off by deep black bands. The tan morph may have a slightly streaked breast.
The white-throated primarily nests in Canada, with some breeding areas dropping into northeast Minnesota, northwest Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They can be found year-round in our northern Atlantic states.
Their nest is found on the ground and is a mastery of course bark, moss and grasses on the outside, lined with small soft grass. The eggs are a beautiful blue-white color, and are speckled. White-throateds usually have one brood a year, but may have two. The eggs take 11-14 days to incubate, with the babies fledging in 7-9 days.
During the winter, the birds tend to stay in more moderate climates than Minnesota; preferring temps above 30 degrees fahrenheit. They are often found along the Atlantic Coast all the way south to Florida’s Gulf Coast. They seem to be pushing their territory more westward, and may be found in the Southwest and the West Coast.
White-throateds prefer insects and seeds, but during the winter will take advantage of fruit left on trees. They are a favorite of backyard bird feeders because they love white millet. All Seasons’ specialty mixes that are perfect for white-throated sparrows include Cabin Mix and Spectrum. Already have one of these? Try adding a feeder with our Kracker Jax mix. Although it doesn’t have millet, the white-throateds enjoy the pre-shelled sunflowers and cracked corn.
listen to the White-throated Sparrow
mp3 file generously donated by John Feith