I just checked the Song Sparrow records in eBird for last January and
February. The species was found at over 30 sites during those two
months, mostly in the Champlain Valley and the southern Connecticut
River Valley. Nearly 80% of those sites with birds were in January and
only 20% in February, which may be due to the birds not being able to
last the winter, the possibility that some flew south even that late
into winter, and the potential that there were fewer birders looking for
them in February.
From late fall to early spring (November 2012 to March 2013) the
numbers of Song Sparrows reported to eBird had the following pattern.
The numbers are counts of birds reported per week in Vermont. Some
midwinter counts (e.g. late February) are inflated by repeated counts of
a single feeder bird.
November: 189, 70, 42, 49 (fall migration ended by mid-November)
December: 27, 50, 34, 16 (higher counts mid-month likely due to
Christmas Bird Count intensity)
January: 42, 32, 19, 20 (high count the first week appears related to
the large number of birders out starting new year lists; numbers dropped
off through the month approaching winter lows)
February: 8, 10, 38, 20 (winter low count first half of February;
later weeks' numbers inflated by repeated feeder counts of single birds
-- total number of birds remained at yearly low levels)
March: 36, 353, 1099, 1568 (spring migration got into full gear!)
So, yes there are Song Sparrows throughout the winter, but they become
very sparse mid-winter and overall seem ill-adapted to our current
climate. Continued reporting of Song Sparrows, and other common birds,
all year round to eBird will help track climate change in years to come
though their changes in migration and over-wintering habits. Just the
last couple of years late-season Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have
increased notably. There is still one frequenting the trees around my
house, for example.
On 12/27/2013 9:07 AM, Priscilla Douglas wrote:
> Hi - my sister and I had a casual bird walk yesterday on the waterfront in
> Burlington, south from Perkins Pier down to the little bridge on the
> bikepath. We identified, to the best of our ability, common mergansers,
> mostly female; common goldeneye, mallards, possibly a loon too far away to
> see very well; a brown creeper, a hairy woodpecker, and a pair of what we
> think were song sparrows, flitting along the shoreline. Are song sparrows
> still around this time of year?
> Thanks for any help and Happy Holidays to all.
> Priscilla Douglas