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American Tree Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow

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American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) User: Brian Morin  (See all photos - 1127)
Canada (Ontario) Ottawa - Last month I posted a picture of a Tree Sparrow but I couldn't confirm until now that the number of winter visitors this year are way down from what we can expect. With Christmas bird counts almost complete for another year, results are showing low to record low numbers across Ontario. I'm not sure why that is. It doesn't suggest that there is anything disastrous happening with the species but it is a curiosity. We'll see this time next year if the numbers return to normal.
Views: 69
Date: January 2, 2019
Details: Adult
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Brian Morin


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Registered: June 2013
Posts: 2,714
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Ottawa - Last month I posted a picture of a Tree Sparrow but I couldn't confirm until now that the number of winter visitors this year are way down from what we can expect. With Christmas bird counts almost complete for another year, results are showing low to record low numbers across Ontario. I'm not sure why that is. It doesn't suggest that there is anything disastrous happening with the species but it is a curiosity. We'll see this time next year if the numbers return to normal.
· Date: January 3, 2019 · Views: 69
· Dimensions: 1125 x 750 ·
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Chris

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Registered: November 2005
Location: Montreal
Posts: 4,399
January 3, 2019 15:36

Is it possible that either pesticide changes or separately just the amount of construction could be interfering with the species?
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Brian Morin
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Registered: June 2013
Posts: 2,714
January 3, 2019 16:19

This shouldn't be a problem because this is an Arctic species that breeds across the entire north so its range is not limited. Being a small songbird, its lifespan would be relatively short so annual nesting is crucial to maintaining the population. A real concern I have is that what happened to shorebirds last summer may have happened to this species as well. Arctic weather was not conducive to breeding. Winter lasted into the breeding season then weather was colder with periodic wet or snowy conditions. There may have been widespread nest failures as would have been the case with shorebirds, or else some may not have bred at all. We need another year to sort this out.
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Brian Morin
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Registered: June 2013
Posts: 2,714
January 3, 2019 18:56

Update: Two things may have occurred. Far northern birds, which would be a smaller number, may have been subjected to breeding distress but birds breeding closer to the treeline might not have suffered. The major issue may be in southern Canada due to poor natural food crops this fall. There may have been a migration right through the region without the normal number holding over for the winter due to inadequate weed seeds. Checking Christmas count totals in the northern US may help to confirm this idea.
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Chris

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Registered: November 2005
Location: Montreal
Posts: 4,399
January 5, 2019 06:11

Speaking of inadequacy...though somewhat unrelated: I was talking to a farmer in Alberta and currently they have no snow cover in Calgary. Apparently this is bad news for crops all around because they won’t have the water and normal melt off come spring.
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Sue
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Registered: December 2006
Posts: 2,675
January 6, 2019 17:51

Beautiful capture,Brian.
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Brian Morin
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Registered: June 2013
Posts: 2,714
January 11, 2019 03:34

With fewer of them around this winter it has been harder to connect with them here.
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