Tag Archives: Tuckerton

Fox Sparrows Fairly Swarming

On this date 109 years ago (3/17/1906), Witmer Stone and James Rehn visited the Tuckerton/West Creek, New Jersey area. (Rehn was an Academy of Natural Sciences entomologist  who would later write Stone memorials for Cassinia and The Auk.) They discovered a heavy Fox Sparrow spring migration fallout, with hundreds of the birds “all over fences, chicken houses and elsewhere along the roads.” An unusually high number of migrant Fox Sparrows was noted that year during late February and March in the Delaware Valley; in Tuckerton Stone and Rehn found the birds “fairly swarming,” and “every thicket seemed full of them.”

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Fox Sparrows winter throughout the U.S. and breed mostly in Canada. There probably aren’t as many Fox Sparrows around as there were in 1906, but they’re still common birds, and their spring migration still peaks in mid-March in the Delaware Valley. In addition to the pleasure of seeing these striking, large sparrows with their fox-red streaks and bright yellow lower mandibles, the males can also often be heard singing on spring migration. The song is a beautiful,  finchy tumble of buzzy notes and slurred whistles, and Stone and Rehn must have heard hundreds of renditions of it on that day in 1906: