Karl Overman: Birds and More


A grassland species that seems to thrive.  Back in my softball playing days it and Horned Lark turned up during the breeding season sometimes even in suburban Detroit ball fields. 

The March bird from the Erie Gun Club was on the early side for migrants in Michigan though I start looking for them in the first week of April.

Winter records, at least early winter records, are numerous for southwestern Ontario but not for southern Michigan. An exception to that rule seems to be Pointe Mouillee.  The first Pointe Mouillee bird was photographed during the Rockwood Christmas Count for 2007, one of 99 species on that count.  The second Pointe Mouillee bird was on the 2010 Rockwood Count. Our birding foursome (Jim Fowler, Lyle Hamilton, Sean Bachman and myself) were barely surviving a tour around frozen Pointe Mouillee toward the end of the day (4:50 p.m) when we stopped to view a Northern Shoveler in a tiny patch of open water in a ditch on the northwest corner of the Long Pond Unit.  When Jim started his vehicle to leave the area, Sean noticed a sparrow jump up from the base of the snow covered dike we were parked on and fly to a tiny band on dry grass within a couple feet of the vehicle.  Sean immediately identified it as a Savannah Sparrow as the photograph below now clearly shows.  Despite the virtual lack of vegetation we still could not see the sparrow so wonders of whether the sparrow had eluded us started being verbalized.  I got out of the vehicle and approached the  insignificant strand of grass in the snow where we had last seen the bird.  Presto, out popped the Savannah Sparrow.  It had burrowed into the base of the grass obviously to roost there for the night.  The third Pointe Mouillee winter (Christmas Count) photo was one of two on  a dike road there.  The final winter shot of this species was at the home of birder Jason St. Pierre in Holly, Michigan.  This bird was coming to a feeder and there was no obvious breeding habitat nearby.

The “Large-billed” Sparrow is a distinctive race that could some day be split.  It occurs in in coastal areas of Sonora principally.  There are two races of this group and I am not sure which subspecies occurs at Puerto Penasco.

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)

modified March 6, 2022