I drove around a little bit today, looking for flocks of birds. One method that birders use to find uncommon/rare birds during is to carefully search through flocks of birds one by one. It's kind of like that game where you have to pick out the picture that is slightly different from all the others-do you know that game? This can be a tedious chore if you are checking a large flock.
About 2 years ago, I saw a report of a Lark Sparrow that was found among a flock of Chipping Sparrows in a cemetery. I stopped by this cemetery after work three days in a row looking for the Lark Sparrow. It wasn't until the third day when the sun appeared that I finally found it. When I saw how different it was, I wondered how I could have ever missed it. So if you come upon a flock of birds, remember that it may be worth your while to carefully scan through the whole flock ( I'm not saying that I always do this, but I'm trying to do it more often). Dana from Backyard Birds recently did a post on identification tips. Have you ever found an interesting species mixed in with a flock of birds?
Another thing that I recently did was to buy some White Proso Millet. Thanks to Lynne from Hasty Brook for reminding me (I can't remember which post). During the fall and winter, I spread this millet under feeders, along hedges, and in the weedy remains of my gardens. I also leave the remains of plants and don't remove my tomato stakes(birds love to use them as perches, especially in winter. I've attracted some sparrows that are less common in my area using these methods. Fox Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow are two visitors that I look forward to seeing.there are actually a few variations of the Fox Sparrow. I usually see what the call the Red Fox Sparrow variety around here.
I plan on meeting up with The Mattabeseck Audubon tomorrow for a field trip referred to as a "sparrow crawl." This should help me brush up on my sparrow i.d. skills-or should I say lack thereof. They do many field trips, but I like them because the groups are usually nice and small. I'm looking forward to catching up on some blog reading tonight (in between innings of the Red Sox/Indians playoff game). What do you have planned for this weekend?