Thursday, September 24, 2009
Yesterday I saw my first Lincoln's Sparrows of the fall migration in my own backyard. My garden has degenerated into nothing more than a patch of weeds, and the sparrows love it. The Lincoln's Sparrow was first identified by John James Audubon in 1834. While on a trip through eastern Canada, a companion of Audubon, Thomas Lincoln, shot a small bird and showed it to Audubon. He determined that it was a new species, and named it Lincoln's Pinewood-Finch. As a shorter form, Audubon sometimes called the bird simply Tom's Finch. Later scientists re-classified it as a sparrow, but the Lincoln's name stuck. I took the above photo a few years ago in the mountains of Colorado where the birds breed in moist willow patches. Lincoln's Sparrows are migrating through South Dakota right now, and will spend the winter farther to our south.