Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harris's Sparrow

The Harris's Sparrow is a large, handsome songbird with a strange range. This bird is Canada's only endemic breeding bird, nesting from the western shore of Hudson's Bay, north and west almost to Alaska. The winter range is also odd, restricted to a relatively narrow band from southern South Dakota to southeastern Texas. In Minnesota, this species is an uncommon migrant, most likely to be seen the farther west you travel. A few attempt to overwinter in the southernmost part of the state. On Monday, 24 October 2011, I located several Harris's Sparrows in brush piles, two in Rice Co. in Carleton College's Upper Arboretum (thanks to an alert from birding friends) and another in nearby Dakota Co.

The bird above, photographed on Monday, in a first-year bird. The bird below, banded a couple of springs ago near Dundas, is an adult. Harris's Sparrows are sexually monomorphic--males and females look the same (although males tend to be larger and heavier than females). In the spring, birds with the blackest throats are dominant over birds with whiter, more splotchy plumage.

1 comment:

  1. I saw two this last weekend in northern Minnesota. I hadn't seen one in a few years and was glad to have good looks at this beautiful sparrow.