“No Dear, it isn’t a Sparrow…”


There are two bird issues that hubby and I joke about.

One long running gag goes this way;

I pick up a good sized feather off of the ground and say, “hummm, I wonder what kind of bird this came off of?”

He always says with confidence, “it’s a turkey feather!”

So, I say, “you call every feather I pick up a turkey feather.”

He says, “yeah I know, stop picking up turkey feathers!” 

In April and May over here it’s a little like an aviary around here. While I’m planting my iris bulbs and waiting for the river to rise I’m also listening to these guys go pretty crazy. I am (and admit willingly) a very very amateur bird watcher. So, I may mistakenly call an American robin some other kind of species and I hope you bear with me because I’m learning as I go along. My goal this spring is to become much more informed in this area of study.

The second gag? When I see any song bird, and ask hubby, it’s always a sparrow.  I could play along by saying “you always say a sparrow” but I don’t bother, I know how the joke plays out.

So I stopped asking him and started doing it the hard way. I bought books from the Audubon Society, I look online, dig through site after site of “Cornell Universities Lab of Ornithology.” Seems like a big word huh? Really it just means the “scientific study of birds.” I’ve always wondered why universities do that; why not call it “Cornell Universities Scientific Study of Birds?” ahh… will life’s mysteries ever be solved? Like is it a sparrow or isn’t it? 

I don’t think it is. And if it is I’ll simply drop my head and sob. Then, I’ll hand over the five bucks I would then owe Joe.


I’m pretty sure this is a Pine Siskin. Pretty sure…

You can find info on these common birds at this website;


I’m very excited because right now there are three hummingbirds coming to the feeders! Am I the only one who has no idea of the difference between an Anna and a Calliope?

Well, off to taking more shots and incorrectly identifying more birds! (I should really stick to planting Iris bulbs….)



7 Responses to ““No Dear, it isn’t a Sparrow…””

  1. 1 montucky

    Very nice picture of the Siskin! We had our first hummer of the season at the feeder today too.

    We’re the same way about bird identification. It took us the longest time to figure out who was making the other call of the Chickadee, the one that my wife says is saying “Hi…my friend!”

  2. I love it when the hummingbirds come back to me that says spring. Here’s an article I just loved from this years January Edition of National Geographic.


    This was my favorite line.

    “I think the hummingbird vocabulary is a hundred percent swear words,” says Sheri Williamson.

    Anyone who has more than one feeder knows this as a fact.

    It sounds also like your wife is gifted at bird identification – I could never figure them out by sound. Only owls because I read somewhere that the number of “hoos” or “hoots” distinguish the species. I learned that part so I can judge them from a distance but a songbird – wow, that’s darn impressive!

  3. oh yeah ps.. thank you and your lovely wife I think you all won me five bucks. :o)

  4. 4 montucky

    Yup, hummers are feisty little critters! We usually have some nest in our lilacs, and in a big fir tree near the house.

    That article in the Geographic is great. I have the hard copy.

    We also have a CD, one that I found a few years ago on a clearance sale. It’s rather hard to use, but if you can find it, there’s a wealth of information including sounds. It’s called North American Birds and wa published in 2000 by Simon & Schuster.

  5. Bird identification is fun, eh? Bird calls are tough – I’m not much good with them myself. I did just get the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, a 4CD set, which is very helpful, but will take some time to absorb!

    Nice shot of the Siskin (I’ve never seen one, but it looks like the one in my field guides).

  6. Sweet – Honestly, it actually clicked for me when I saw your photo of the Savannah Sparrow. It seemed to be the only real competiton. Dang,I’m a “shoe in” for that bet. I tossed up your blog Adam your photos are really amazing. Hopefully, when I grow up I take pictures just like you.

    As a side note; I love your shots of that turkey vulture. Amazing! I’ve found that catching light under one of those buggers extreamly difficult.

  7. Thanks for the tip Terry! I’ll see if I can dig that up. (ahem.. I really could use all the help I can get)

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