Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yearlisting amongst a cloud of sparrows

A number of years ago I read a book called "A Cloud of Sparrows". Although this book had absolutely nothing to do with birding, (it was a memorable story about the difficulties faced by the japanese people during the rapid industrialization and westernization that occurred in Japan during the late 19th century) I have always loved the title and thought it a fitting description of birding in Oklahoma. The Sooner state is well known for the many species of sparrows that spends at least part of the year here. We have interesting breeders, like the above Rufous-crowned Sparrow (a southwestern specialty), and the rare and hard to see Bachman's Sparrow (a southeastern specialty) as well as many others. We also have many more northerly breeding species that spend the winter here, including the white-crowned sparrow and range restricted Harris's sparrow seen below.

Oklahoma also has all four species of Longspurs (which are a specialized kind of sparrow) wintering here, as well as some of the harder to see Ammodramus sparrows that winter and/or migrate through like the Le Conte's Sparrow (the species seen in this blogs title) and the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow.

All of these beautiful sparrows are part of what makes birding in Oklahoma great! This year I am attempting an Oklahoma "Big Year". This is an attempt to see as many species as possible WITHIN Oklahoma within the calender year. Most birders attempting a feat such as this probably have a lot more money and time on their hands than this recently graduated former graduate student, thus a very respectable OK big year attempt should be near or above 300 species. Due to my lack of funds and many time commitments I would be quite happy with something around 250 however. Wish me luck!

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