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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: Brewer’s Sparrow, Sageland Singer

Air Date: Week of

A Brewer’s Sparrow sings lustily in the American West. (Photo: © Tom Munson)

One of the most musical and complex bird songs in the US is that of the Brewer's Sparrow. It's a veritable aria, ringing out from the sagebrush of Eastern Washington's Columbia Basin. BirdNote®’s Mary McCann has more about this sageland singer.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.


CURWOOD: In the wide-open spaces of the American West, a dusky brown bird holds forth with an impressive song. BirdNote®’s Mary McCann has more about the sage land singer called the Brewer’s Sparrow.

Brewer's Sparrow, Sageland Singer

[Long song of the Brewer’s Sparrow]

Every spring, one of the most musical and complex bird songs on the continent rings forth from the sagebrush of the Columbia Basin in Washington State.

The Brewer’s Sparrow, a migratory songbird that winters mostly in western Mexico, returns in April to the sage. Sagebrush habitat, often called shrub-steppe, is a common landscape of the interior West. However, each year more and more of it is being cleared for irrigated crops and development.

Brewer’s Sparrows thrive in sagebrush habitats. (Photo: © Gregg Thompson)

The diminutive Brewer’s Sparrow shares its nesting habitat with other fancy singers like the long-winded Sage Thrasher and the melodic Vesper Sparrow. All three of these birds are sandy brown in color, blending so seamlessly with their surroundings that only a sharp eye can pick them out. Yet even among this accomplished company, the Brewer’s song stands apart. While most birds offer a melody, the Brewer’s Sparrow seems to perform an entire aria.

I’m Mary McCann.

[Song of the Brewer’s Sparrow]

CURWOOD: For pictures, fly on over to our website, loe.org.



Learn more on the BirdNote® website

More information at BirdWeb.org


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