A who's-who of suburban sparrows has been visiting the yard. The attraction? Suet crumbs among the pavers and dandelion leaves, knocked from the suet cage by European Starlings. (The ecology of the back yard is inelegant, but complex.)
A redder-than usual Fox Sparrow (although still definitely sooty) arrived on the 13th. Note the smudgy spots, yellowish lower mandible, and the long hind toe and claw. The latter feature, one would hypothesize, is functionally related to this sparrow's ground-scratching foraging behaviour, and for digging crumbs from between pavers.
There is always a Song Sparrow around, not always the same one, but always only one. One Song Sparrow to a yard, that's the rule, and they enforce it vigorously.
"White-crowns" are here throughout the year, but some are migratory. Southern birds are moving north now, stopping for the suet, and to perch on the corner of the sand box.