Poor Sam Peabody: Rumpless Wonder

The white-throated sparrow is a year-round mainstay in Vermont and throughout much of New England. Their distinct song, which some say sounds a lot like someone calling, “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody,” is a treat to hear in the deep woods or amidst a green-lawned suburb. Some folks further north think the bird sings, “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,” but I can’t say for sure who is right.

These plump little birds have the standard brownish sparrow get-up, but they do have a couple telltale identifying marks… but you’re probably going to need your ‘nocs to see these! (And by ‘nocs, I mean binoculars, of course.)

First off, these sparrows are named for their white throats. They’ve got a patch of white along their throat that is bordered by a crisp black line — really making the white throat pop. Secondly, these birds have yellow lores. The lores are the areas on either side of the face, above the beak and by the eyes.

In the photo above, you can see this white-throated sparrow is missing all of his tail feathers.

On April 21, a white-throated sparrow narrowly escaped death after being pawed at by a dog. Luckily, the dog’s owner was able to restrain his dog, and brought the bird to VINS for care. Songbirds have a neat feature to help them escape predators: their tails pull out easily, so when a predator tries to grab the bird, the tail feathers are often pulled out while the bird flies away to safety. Such was the case for this little guy, who is missing every single one of his tail feathers. He sustained no bite wounds or scratches… just a drafty behind.

The good news is the sparrow is eating well, flying about his mesh enclosure superbly and has a bright, energetic attitude. We’ll keep this rumpless wonder with us until we can be assured he’ll fly well in the wild.


  1. Anonymous on May 9, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Are you going to have to do a rump transplant on this little guy? He seems to be dealing pretty well with this disability. He must have a hard time keeping his pants on without a rump though.

  2. Meghan on May 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    No rump transplant needed. Latest news is this sparrow is slated for release back into the wild this week!

Leave a Comment