It's time for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

It's time for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

It's time for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

White-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) made the news just last year when National Geographic reported a pretty fascinating development. Over the past 20 years, white throated sparrows have begun dumping their old song and replacing it with a new one! While they used to have a three-note call, most of these sparrows have replaced it with a two-note call. While bird calls slowly evolve over time, this rapid switch is unprecedented according to ornithologists. Why did the switch happen? No one knows for certain. Maybe they just prefer playing stuff off the new album!

If you'd like to hear the sparrows' hot new track, you're in luck, because these little birds are frequent winter visitors here in southwest Virginia. They breed in Canada but migrate to the eastern and southern U.S. when cold weather hits. With their white throats and bright yellow "eyebrows," these sparrows are fairly easy to spot.

If you keep a bird feeder, it's likely you've spotted a few already this winter as they'll readily come to eat birdseed. If you don't have a bird feeder, keep an eye peeled at forest edges, pond edges, thickets, overgrown fields, and parks. You'll often see them scratching at ground level in search of food, and they'll eat new buds off of bushes in early spring.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

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