Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweet Wintering Sparrows--Vickie Henderson

I didn't know much about sparrows until I began to volunteer at a bird-banding station last year. Besides loving the close up views of the birds, I was impressed with the work that is done by the volunteer banding team, important conservation work.  
I have not released a bird from the mist net, yet.  Makes me too nervous.  But I have recorded the data and enjoyed the camaraderie of a dedicated group of people who love birds and want to help insure that their health and numbers are monitored before another species is imperiled.  The banding site I visit is a local wildlife refuge made up primarily of grasslands, a habitat that is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change, and whose resident and wintering species are already declining.

In the image above you see a Savannah Sparrow that winters in Tennessee.  And below, a sketchbook spread of this sparrow being released from the mist net and receiving its band during a session.  (click images to enlarge)
It was during these intimate moments at the banding table that I fell in love with sparrows.  They are quiet birds with sweet personalities. And even though they have the reputation of being "little brown jobs", they are far from that if you take a closer look, even with binoculars or a camera.  Their feathers are exquisitely beautiful,a tapestry in cream, white, brown, black and rust, perfectly designed to keep them camouflaged from predators.  When they are still, you can't find them at all, even if you just heard one.  And when you do see them, it is a wonderfully satisfying experience.

Besides the magazine article that I previously posted, I also published an article about sparrows at Knoxville's Wild Birds Unlimited website.  The article includes images of two other beautiful sparrows, the maroon red and gray Fox Sparrow, and the exquisite rusty winged Swamp Sparrow, a bird that otherwise looks grayish all over.

More about my bird banding experiences 

And on a different subject, but still about birds, if you love Sandhill cranes and don't want to see then hunted in the eastern USA where they've never been hunted before, visit either of my blogs, Vickie Henderson Art or Vickie's Sketchbook.  At the top right sidebar of each you will see this sandhill sketch.  Under it you will find easy links where you can voice your opinion.  Take a minute to help us stop Greater Sandhill Crane hunting in the east before it starts.  


  1. Superb sketches of your banding experiences. I always look forward to the arrival of the wintering sparrows.

  2. What a little beauty, Vickie! I've only done a few bird-bandings, but it is SO exciting!

  3. Thank you, Lisa. Me too. The song of the White-throated sparrow is one I look forward to in the fall.

    Thank you, Kate. The experiences I've had with banding have been awesome!

  4. I can imagine! Wish I had more opportunities...

  5. Little sparrows are wonderfully colourful if time is taken to really see. Before I started photographing birds in their environment I never realized how blessed we are with such beauty in tiny doses.

  6. Me too, Teresa. I have learned so much from my photographs. And the bonus to sketching, you learn even more!

  7. Beautiful sketches of the banding process. I like the way that the bird is the main focus , with the hands in the background


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