A visual journal exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

by Teri Tynes – writer, photographer, and illustrator

A Song Sparrow Singing at the Salt Marsh

With the arrival of the Vernal Equinox, a male Song Sparrow has been singing many melodies at the Salt Marsh in Inwood Hill Park. While a loud Northern Mockingbird practiced for a song competition in the marsh grasses nearby, the Song Sparrow assumed the loftier perch at the top of a favorite tree. For the birders, the tree in question is the “birdy” tree adjacent to the fenced marsh extension along the Salt Marsh path. The sparrow is easy to find because its song of repetitive notes and trills rings loud and clear across the water. The singing announces the claimed territory.

While sparrows are often hard to identify, Song Sparrows have some discernible characteristics. They have dark streaks and a brown spot on the chest. They pump up their longish tails when alighting to another branch. Importantly, they frequent salt marshes where insects and seeds are bountiful, and they sing a long variable play set of songs. NPR ran a story on this last year. See “The song sparrow might be nature’s best DJ.” (February 2, 2022.) According to the report, “It can take half an hour for a song sparrow to cycle through its repertoire.”

Birds are not the only ones who have been practicing music in the park lately. Last week, a bagpiper took to the woods near the Whale Back rock, likely practicing for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. On Wednesday, a trumpeter sat on a bench next to the park entrance flagpole and played some slow cool jazz.

In sum, if you’ve spotted a streaky sparrow at a salt marsh and it’s singing loud and clear, you’ve likely seen a Song Sparrow.

From 2022

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2 responses to “A Song Sparrow Singing at the Salt Marsh”

  1. Susan McFeatters Avatar
    Susan McFeatters

    Thanks for this. I’m stuck at home on the couch with a foot problem and am missing my daily walks in Central Park. Wish I could teleport to the Ramble with its soft pathways.


  2. Thanks so much, Susan. I hope you feel better soon and can swiftly return to the Ramble.


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