Although the breeding and winter ranges of White-throated Sparrows overlap, most, if not all, populations are migratory. During their flight southward in the fall, White-throated Sparrows stop during the day to refuel on seeds, fruits and insects, if available. Winged Euonymus (Euonymus alatus), or Burning Bush, is an invasive shrub that, in addition to shading and crowding out native plants, produces vast quantities of capsules, each containing up to four seeds. White-throated Sparrows and many other bird species find these bright red seeds attractive, but unfortunately, they are of little nutritional value to the birds and other wildlife that feed on them. How ironic that these birds, whose health and migratory success may be compromised by the seeds of this invasive plant, are facilitating its establishment by dispersing its seeds.
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White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) numbers are building in northern New England as they head towards the mid-October peak of their migration south. Even though they are no longer constantly singing their “Poor Sam Peabody-Peabody-Peabody” song, which allows quick identification, White-throated Sparrows’ white throats, striped crowns and yellow lores (the area between the eye and the bill) make them one of the easier sparrows to identify. Don’t be surprised if you see this bird with a tan, and not white, crown. There are two color forms, white-crowned and tan-crowned. Interestingly, an individual bird almost always mates with a bird of the opposite color form. Males of both color types prefer females with white stripes, but both kinds of females prefer tan-striped males.