During the breeding season, a report of a Chipping Sparrow is generally not a cause for excitement. However after September, these small sparrows largely disappear from Eastern New York, replaced in late October by their larger, arctic cousins the American Tree Sparrow.
On December 12, I was on my way to run some errands. As I opened my back door, I noticed a small bird on the feeder. Quickly realizing that it wasn’t one of the normal hoard of House Sparrows that are normally there, I quickly went back inside (hoping the bird didn’t fly off!), grabbed my binoculars and there on the feeder was of all things, a Chipping Sparrow in December!
Now I went through my list of other possibilities and quickly ruled them out. The dark eye-line pretty much eliminated the even rarer possibility of Clay-Colored Sparrow and the ultra rare Brewer’s Sparrow.
The bird was present again on December 13, but appears to be in poor shape. The bird spent nearly all day at feeder, hardly moving (but feeding the whole time). I last saw it at dusk, when it flew off for the night with a small group of Dark-eyed Juncos.