Birding Column: Sweet Song of the Winter Sparrows

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In 1957 ornithologist Waldo McAtee compiled a list of folk names by which the white-throated sparrow was called, many no doubt inspired by its "Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" call—or if you are Canadian, its "Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada" call. Some of these names include nightingale, night-singer, old Sam Peabody, Peabody bird, sweet sweet Canada bird, whistle bird, and whistling sparrow.

The white-throated sparrow is uncommon in winter along the west coast of the United States, and it is rare to see one in southern California. But you never know. Maybe someday I'll see a straggler in my yard, down from the cold of western Canada, singing its fabulous song.

Mathew Tekulsky writes a regular column about birding in his backyard and neighborhood in Bel Air, California. You can follow his encounters with the birds of the Santa Monica Mountains here on National Geographic News Bird Watcher every fortnight or so.

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For more Birdman of Bel Air stories, scroll to bottom.

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