After months of not seeing or even hearing birds – at least not at the same level as last year this time – today was a stellar day. I will post some photos of the few other species I saw today, but this post is about the Harris’s Sparrow that showed up in the overgrown weeds near the old barn.
The bird I filmed doesn’t look anything the Harris’s sparrow at the AllAboutBirds guide. In fact, it didn’t look like any species I saw under “Sparrows” at that site. So, I posted to a IL birding group on Facebook for some assistance identifying what I figured was a sparrow – but which one? When I received the response that it was a Harris’s I figured it must be a juvenile, since the photos in the guide show a bird sporting a lovely and very distinctive black head and bib. I did a quick internet search for juvenile Harris’s sparrow images, and I’m pretty sure the person who assisted me from the FB group was right. Like the White-crowned Sparrow youngsters whose brown head markings change to black as they mature, I was able to see images of Harris’s sparrows that looked very much like the bird I filmed.
AllAboutBirds (link posted above) provides a map of the species’s breeding, wintering a migration locations. I’m taking the liberty to provide the species range image here – which, of course belongs to AllAboutBirds:
That is a very small range in which you can find this species!
Here’s some other info about this species that I’m quoting from the AllAboutBirds page on Harris’s Sparrow:
The Harris’s Sparrow is..”North America’s largest sparrow (except for towhees) and the only songbird that breeds in Canada and nowhere else in the world. In winter it settles in the south-central Great Plains, where it is a backyard favorite. Unfortunately, Harris’s Sparrow populations are declining; its restricted range make it vulnerable to habitat loss on the wintering and breeding grounds.”
Here are some additional images I captured of this lovely bird.
Curiously, as I was snapping photos of this bird that was about 100 feet away settled on an old fence post, a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow flew into the shot. The two birds had a “moment” before the WC flew off.
I feel very fortunate to have captured this somewhat rare bird – especially for where I live. The guide shows the eastern boundary of it’s migration route along the Mississippi river which is about eighty miles west of us. That wouldn’t seem so far off if I hadn’t looked at what a tiny range this bird has for it’s breeding and wintering grounds. It was a lucky day!