Male White-throated Sparrow Painting: Transparent Watercolor & Time-lapse Video

White-throated Sparrow (7x10 inch Transparent Watercolor)

White-throated Sparrow (7×10-inch Transparent Watercolor)

White-throated Sparrow (detail from 7x10 inch Transparent Watercolor)

White-throated Sparrow (detail from 7×10-inch Transparent Watercolor)


I think that I last painted one of these when I was about 12. It has been on my To Do list for quite a while because they are such charming birds. I look forward to the White-throated Sparrows return every spring. They really are beautiful. Here in mid-Michigan they tend to blow through on their way north in late April to early May and then again in October heading to warmer climes. Where I grew up in western New York, we had them year round. I love hearing their call, which we remembered by the phrase “Oh Canada, Canada, Canada.” Given that I grew up not too far from Ontario, maybe that comes from too much “Hockey Night in Canada”? I also hear it referred to as “Old Sam Peabody,” which describes its sound at least as well. The Old Sam phrase replaces the mental image of a toothless Canuck in a goalie mask and Maple Leafs’ hockey sweater with a octogenarian in flannel from the Possum Lodge, neither of which suitably correspond to such a pretty bird. Of course I can’t think of a better saying to remember their call.

Like “Old Sam Peabody,” there are hundreds of fun mnemonic phrases to help remember bird calls. My kids are great at remembering them and using them for identification. Here are some of the most amusing:

  • “When I see you, I will seize you, then I’ll squeeze you ’til you squirt” — Red-eyed Vireo
  • Spit. See if I care! — White-eyed Vireo
  • Quick, three beers! — Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • A bagel, a bagel, a bagel — Willow Ptarmigan

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