Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cassin’s Sparrow, Scotland County, NC

Howdee all,
When I read online on Facebooks new ABA Area Rare Birds group created by Chris West that a first record for NC Cassin's sparrow was seen just a half hour drive from where we were~~I wanted to see the bird.
Jeff and I have seen Cassin's sparrows in Texas, but this bird was way outside its range.
When I mentioned seeing the bird to Jeff, he wasn’t so thrilled. The Cassin's Sparrow is a rather plain looking bird.
There was a Fork-tailed flycatcher seen the same morning the Cassin's was discovered, but hadn't been seen since… I thought idea of seeing a Fork-tail flycatcher might be more appealing to Jeff as it is a Gorgeous bird and would be a life bird for the both of us…
Cassins Sparrow in NC_003
I knew the chances were pretty slim on seeing the Forkie… got us out there to the Cassin's. :)
Clouds near Cassins Sp_001 We followed the directions from The Carolinas Birding List and put in the GPS coordinates..
They were spot on..
Clouds near Cassins Sp_003The second we drove to the spot we heard the Cassin's..
Clouds near Cassins Sp_004There was one other car there…a father and son.
They told us that two Cassin's were singing earlier…
Very interesting. The talk on the listserve is that the droughts in Texas etc..could have them deciding NC is a good home.
Subject: Cassin's Sparrow range
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2011 06:03:49 -0400
Cassin's Sparrows have long been one of my favorite sparrows.  I have 
fond memories of waking up to their songs while camping in western 
Oklahoma. Thanks again to Gil for finding and bringing everyone's 
attention to them.

It is always risky to speculate why a rarity has shown up, but with two 
Cassin's Sparrows in the state, one has to wonder.  Cassin's is native 
to short and mixed grass prairies with some larger plants - shrubs and 
yucca - from which to sing.  This area is mainly in western Texas, 
Oklahoma, and Kansas and eastern Colorado and New Mexico.  Populations 
tend to fluctuate greatly, often in response to drought.  The drier the 
year, the further east they nest.  Interestingly, most of their normal 
range is in one of the strongest drought in years. Of course, "further 
east" is usually central Oklahoma and eastern Texas.  Who would have 
thought North Carolina!!

John Dole
Raleigh, NC
Cassins Sparrow in NC_007Here is what Daniel, posted on the listserve later in the day..and a link for photos..
Subject: Cassin's Sparrows, Scotland County
 Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2011 17:35:45 -0400
After finding the longspur at Fort Fisher, Dad and I drove up to Slate Circle to try for the Cassin's Sparrows. It took us a little while to find the right field, but once we did both Cassin's Sparrows were singing as soon as we got out of the car. We got great looks and bad photos of one of them, and heard the other one. Link to photos:

Daniels dads photos are much better than mine…As the distance was great and I just have a point and shoot with 20x …
See the Sparrow?
Cassins Sparrow in NC_004Here..let me crop the photo…ha..oh there it is! Cassins Sparrow in NC_004
We actually had great views in the scope….theirs, we didn’t bring ours~ mistake…I could have had a nice digiscoped photo of this bird, as it sat quite a long time singing in the same spot.

Clouds near Cassins Sp_005
This Savannah sparrow was much closer …
Cassins Sparrow in NC_023
I did take a video of the Cassin's ~which is much nicer..because the best part of the whole scene was hearing the bird….a beautiful song…and also the displaying.

So here you go…listen to the video…
I had no tripod..only a monopod..and keeping it still was bear with me here…
Note~at the end of the video the~ Skylarking
There were some storm clouds coming in from the west ..
Clouds near Cassins Sp_007It started to rain..
Clouds near Cassins Sp_010
It was time to go…
Oh..and no Fork-tailed flycatcher


  1. That the bird song is wonderful! Luv the video/audio and pic of Savannah Sparrow

  2. Great photos and interesting info!!!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  3. Another great post Dawn...luv'd it

  4. Nice post, Dawn! Congrats on your sighting.

  5. Wonderful post, Dawn! So glad you were able to spot the Cassin's Sparrow. I enjoyed viewing the video and listening to the Cassin's oh so beautiful song. Amazing storm clouds!

  6. What a wonderful find! Great post and photos/video.

  7. What a pretty song! Congrats! Now, did you eBird it? ;)

  8. Great video! You wonder whether he will ever attract a female with his singing. Thanks for sharing, Dawn!

  9. Please check out this awesome video of a snowy owl in Nunavut, Canada

  10. Holy Cow!!!!
    How late am I in thanking you all for your kind comments!
    I have been at two birding festivals back to back...Birding all day and crashing into a lump of bird brain at night...No energy to do much of anything...

    It was awesome to see the Cassins sparrow and hear it singing and see it skylarking!

    thanks again everyone! Sorry for my late reply.


ok what do you really think?????