The song sparrows have returned to Point Pleasant Park. This guy was quite co-operative as I snapped shots from about three metres away on April 4, 2013. This isn't unusual - I've found they are content to let you linger close by as they belt out their mating message. He had lots of competition that day as he traded melodies with at least two other males in the vicinity.
It always lifts the heart to hear the song sparrow's melodic serenade for the first time in the spring. These chubby, dishevelled-looking passerines often return to their northern breeding grounds when there is still snow on the ground, as early as mid-March.
A few hardier specimens spend the winter in Nova Scotia, as well as Ontario and other parts of southern Canada. But most escape the cold in the southern United States. They can be found as far north as the Aleutian Islands in breeding season.