The juncos have finally departed, but spring birds are continuing to arrive and bring more color to the yard and feeders. One I've been happy to see, one that may seem common to many, is the newly-arrived white-crowned sparrow.
The bold stripes on the head, the yellow bill tipped with black, and the perky behavior characterize this sparrow, but to me it's more than that. These sparrows are not unusual in Utah, and in fact are year-round residents in this part of the state. To me, however, this is one more sparrow species that enjoys the mature shrubbery around the house and the ground-feeding areas I've established. Indeed, this bird was content scouting around for spilled sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn on the deck, and I also spotted it outside my ground-eye-level office window, happily scratching in the dirt for more seeds and early spring insects.
Attracting any new bird is always an achievement. A new species is a testament to a healthy backyard ecosystem that meets birds' needs, and welcomes them to a safe, comfortable environment. For some backyard birders, the appearance of a rare bird or passing migrant may be an exciting moment - and it is to me as well - but even more exciting is knowing that a resident bird has come to prefer my yard. This means that my landscaping, my feeders, and my water sources have become more attractive than other yards and natural features, and each new bird is a promise that what one bird discovers, others will as well.
This white-crowned sparrow truly is a crowning glory.