110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Feb 3, 2013 - 8:09:38am
An adorable, petite 5 1/2-inch Savannah sparrow ran, walked and flew short flights on the trail at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in December. A minute later, he was hanging onto some tall weeds. Each tiny foot was on a different stalk, yet the little acrobat didn't look awkward.
With only an 8-inch wingspan and weighing just 0.71 ounce, the Savannah sparrow looked so fragile, yet he is hardy.
His back is streaked brown, and his underside is nearly white. His cheeks are brown, his crown white, and his bill showing two colors. The upper bill is dark gray, and the lower part is pale yellow. This pudgy bird has a small head, a short tail, and a yellow patch near his eyes.
Weed seeds are the main part of the diet for these little sparrows. During breeding time, however, they also eat insects for protein. They forage on the ground or in low bushes, which is why the Savannah sparrow was on the same path where I was hiking at Lake Woodruff.
When the female builds a nest, it is merely a sparse collection of grass and weed stalks that are level with the ground and well-hidden in tall grass. The nest usually is placed under matted dead plants, and can be approached by a little "tunnel" on the side.
The female lays two to five eggs, and incubates them for about 13 days. The young leave the nest in eight to 11 days. Both parents feed their babies.
Savannah sparrows are named after Savannah, Ga., where one was seen many years ago.
They reside in most of North America and breed in the north, even in the tundra areas. Dry prairies, grasslands, sand dunes and dry open areas are their favorite dwelling places. Many migrate to Florida from September through May. We enjoy all snowbirds, whether they are people or real birds!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at email@example.com.
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