I see these little guys all the time, crowding around the spilled seed beneath the feeder. I have a tendency to name any small brown bird a sparrow so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these guys really are sparrows, chipping sparrows to be precise.

According to my bird book, chipping sparrows are nicknamed “hairbirds” because they use hair in their nests that they steal from unsuspecting horses and sometimes napping dogs. Perhaps – gasp! – even lazy greyhounds.

Apparently, they are also one of the signs of spring in northern climes where they replace the American tree sparrows that move up to the Arctic to breed.