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Bird of the Week: Swamp Sparrow

Walking along the border of a wetland you may hear the sweet, musical-yet-monotonous trill of the Swamp Sparrow. Much of their body is a mix of unassuming earth tones: black, brown, and gray dominate their back, while their underside tends to be paler. This color scheme allows them to blend effortlessly into the marshes and plant cover where they make their homes. Their more striking features are their rusty wing tips and mohawk-like crest atop their head, as well as the white patch covering their throat. They also have longer legs than other sparrows, a nod towards their habit of wading into shallow water to forage for insects and seeds. Song sparrows have even been known to plunge their head underwater to grab food. Though still plentiful, some people have begun to worry that habitat fragmentation will continue to lower their population until the birds must be classified as threatened or endangered. The same shrubs, reeds, and grasses that allow adults to blend seamlessly into their environment also provide materials for the well-hidden nests. Within the southern band of the lower peninsula, we are fortunate to see Swamp Sparrows year-round.

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