white-throated sparrow

white-throated sparrow

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Little brown jobs

"Little Brown Job”: if you’ve not heard the term before, this refers to any number of drab, brown, often hard-to-identify little birds.  Sparrows.  Shorebirds.  Many flycatchers.  The kind of birds that give many birders fits.  And then there are crazies like me, who revel in the challenge and the subtle beauty of these birds; to me, the combination of warm chocolate brown, cool slate gray, and  biscuit-golden buff, all overlaid with streaks, is every bit as appealing as any iridescent hummingbird.

Lincoln’s Sparrow: little brown job

Paradise Tanager: not so much…

Don’t get me wrong- I love the colorful birds too.  It’s just that the understated groups hold a particular appeal for me, aided by the furtive nature of many such species, making it a special treat to get a good look.  (combine the hard-to-see with the glittering color and you get pittas- *mind explodes*)


Winter sparrow time in the states is obviously a joy, but my real passion is traveling to new countries to see birds- especially to the tropics.  My first real tropical birding experience occurred when I visited eastern Ecuador as a graduate student scouting a potential field site.  The colorful toucans, tanagers, and trogons were of course fabulous, but I found it particularly thrilling to try to identify, from fleeting glimpses, the hundreds of brown or gray understory species that crossed my path.  I have visited an additional three continents since then, and the Amazon rainforest continues to hold a special place in my heart- although the rainforest of southern Thailand was similarly evocative, especially when I realized that the multitude of babbler species (you got it, a diverse group of brown birds) were so reminiscent of my all-time favorite bird group, the antbirds.

Dot-backed antbird: a study in black and white and polka dots.

So now you know a little bit about what interests me.  This blog is a space for me to share my birding adventures, both at home with the sparrows and abroad with the antbirds.

No comments:

Post a Comment