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A Choir of One

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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Artist's Description

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia

Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
May 22, 2011

I was on my way back to the car after my wee wander and this little guy landed in a tree about 20 yards from the end of the trail. I was practicing my new bird shooting technique which is quite different from “Stealth Mode”. This involves standing in one spot and waiting for the wee buggers to show up. Seems to work. Not sure what to call it yet, though.

With thanks to www.borealforest.org


Distinguishing Features – Short, rounded wings; tail, long with rounded tips. Back, brown with gray feather edging; head, brown with black streaking and a narrow gray centre stripe; rump, olive brown with dusky streaks; tail, brown with two central feathers bearing a dusky central line; white to grayish line above eye; brownish stripes – behind and below the eye and down toward the throat; neck, grayish with light brown streaks; underparts, white; breast, sides and belly, streaked with dark brown or black. Bill, dusky; legs, pale brown. Male and female indistinguishable but female is slightly smaller.

Size – 15.3 – 17.7 cm (6 – 7 in).


Shrubby areas along the edge of forests, waterways, farmlands and residential areas.


On the ground, shrub or small tree. Nest is made up of grasses, weeds, bark and leaves, lined with fine grass, hair and down. Eggs, 3 – 5; pale shades of blue or green, speckled with brown or reddy-brown blotches. Incubation period 12 – 13 days.


The Song Sparrow is one of the commonest birds across Canada. It is also one of the most beneficial species as its diet consists of remarkable quantities of weed seeds and insects.
Its spirited and pleasant song is a familiar backround sound of the summer months: Sweet Sweet Sweet!

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso 400, spot metered, F6.3, 1/250 second

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Artwork Comments

  • Photography  by Mathilde
  • Mike Oxley
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