Song Sparrows Occupy Specific Habitats

Every living organism has a specific habitat for which it is best adapted. Song Sparrows are best adapted for thickets, woodland edges, hedge rows, pond margins, weedy fields, and other such open and semi-open places. Our backyards, therefore, come closer to being what Song Sparrows like than, for example, deep, shadowy forests, or along the beach.

One of the Song Sparrow's adaptations is its short, powerful beak, perfectly designed for eating hard seeds of the type produced by grasses and weeds -- the kinds of plants found in open and semi-open places. Some of the specie's favorite seeds are produced by Smartweed, Foxtail Grass, Ragweed, Panic grass, Crabgrass, Pigweed, and Oats. Most of these plants are weeds that grow along roads and in abandoned fields and city lots. After a while you'll learn the habitat requirements of many plants and animals, and then you'll know where to look for them when you want to see them.

The Song Sparrow diet doesn't stay the same all year round. During the fall and early winter, when seeds are most abundant, seeds can account for 90 percent of the bird's diet. However, during the summer when plenty of insects are available, insects may constitute only half the diet. The Song Sparrow's favorite insects are beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, ants, and true bugs -- all common insects in "open and semi-open places." Such seasonal changes in diet are typical for most higher animals, and some of the lower ones.

When mankind appeared on the American continent and began destroying natural areas on a large scale, plant and animal species requiring virgin forest, unpolluted water, and wide open spaces suffered severely; some of them, such as Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, went extinct.

Because Song Sparrows are so well adapted to weedy areas, they are one of the few bird species that has actually benefited from human destruction of nature. If you cut down a forest, you may drive away Wood Thrushes, but the resulting weeds attract Song Sparrows. Of course, if you replace the Song Sparrows' weeds with concrete or mowed grass, then even Song Sparrows can't survive. In a similar way, in North America, the buffalo, or bison, almost went extinct, but rats and cockroaches have found a paradise in the human world. Rare orchids may be on the verge of extinction because their unique habitats are being destroyed, but crabgrass thrives were there are human disruptions!

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