American Tree Sparrow

Cozy in Greenbrier

American Tree Sparrow

Fairfield, Iowa

American Tree Sparrows get all comfy in Iowa in winter, which is warmer than where this native sparrow breeds up in the Arctic. I know winter is really here when this sparrow shows up in Fairfield, Iowa.

They often hang out in my brushpile, especially among the now-bare vines of Greenbriar. Ouch! Watch your little toes!

Yeah, Greenbrier 

I'm always trying to dodge that daggery vine in the woods when I go for a walk. It has the sharpest of thorns. And for years I disliked it. But a couple of years ago I discovered caterpillars feeding there, of a species I'd never seen before. So I stopped fighting it. And now I realize that for a little bird Greenbrier is safety and home sweet home. Its scientific name, in case you want to go get some (which you might not want to do) is Smilax hispida.

Range Map by Cornell Lab

Home on the range

Amercan Tree Sparrows are a native North American species. They breed far to the north, often above the Arctic Circle. 

The Cornell Lab's range map shows orange where the species lives in summer, which is where it breeds. The winter range is in blue. Yellow is where the species passes through on its way between its breeding ground and the winter range.

— Diane Porter, January 5, 2022