Chipping Away


This week’s photo, taken June 1, 2013 at the Union Bay Natural Area (Montlake Fill) in Seattle, WA, features a CHIPPING SPARROW.

On the first day of June of this year, I enjoy a very productive morning of birding at the Fill. I find two new species for the year: a pair of REDHEADS and a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD. I also get great looks at a RED CROSSBILL, a bird I never grow tired of seeing. Toward the end of my walk, I photograph a CHIPPING SPARROW, just before it disappears into the brush. Afterwards, I give little thought to that sparrow, because I used to see plenty of Chipping Sparrows when I lived in San Diego. So, I’m quite surprised the next day when I learn that a Chipping Sparrow hadn’t been reported at the Montlake Fill in nearly two years.

Connie Sidles has birded the Fill since 1986. She surveys the bird life there nearly every day, and when she heard about my Chipping Sparrow sighting, she asked if she could include my photo in her latest book about the Fill. The “Fill of Joy” is a lovely collection of well-written essays about life’s lessons found in nature, and the book contains just the right amount of photographs and illustrations to complement the writing. My favorite image, of course, is the photo of a Chipping Sparrow on page 231. The “Fill of Joy” is now available at:

As I enter my second year of residence in the Northwest, I’m developing a better understanding of what birds are common and what birds are not so common here in Washington state. Although it can take a long time to acquire that perspective, little by little, I am chipping away.


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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6 Responses to Chipping Away

  1. One of my favorite birds, thanks for the great story and photo!

  2. Reblogged this on Wedgwood in Seattle History and commented:
    Valarie says: Photographer Joe Sweeney highlights the wonders of the bird world and we are delighted that his chipping sparrow is featured in a new book about the Montlake Fill at the Union Bay Natural Area.

  3. Judy Zeckhauser says:

    This sounds like a lovely book which I may buy as a gift for my friends in Phoenix whom I’ll see soon. They love birds ( used to receive your emails) and love happiness. Seems like a nice gift! Thx Joe. Judy


    and joe, when are you going to publish your book of ‘well written essays about life’s lessons found in nature with beautiful pictures to complement the writings?’ blessings, mj

  5. Cindy Ackley says:

    Thanks for the update. I’m glad you are enjoying the greater northwest. Take care Cindy

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Pingback: Nature in Northeast Seattle: Birds | Wedgwood in Seattle History

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