Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Harris’s Sparrow

Speaking of burned prairies, Gerry Hoekstra and I were thrilled to find a single Harris’s Sparrow in this habitat last Thursday in the Louisville Swamp Unit of the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Scott County. I have previously posted on this species.

These sparrows have an oddly restricted range. They breed in the forest-tundra zone of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Canadian Northwest Territories. This sparrow is the only songbird that nests only in Canada. The species enjoys a narrow winter range in the central Great Plains, from northern Nebraska and central Iowa to eastern Texas (Norment and Shackleton 2008). Elsewhere the Harris’s Sparrow is accidental.

This sparrow was collected by Thomas Nuttall in 1834. Audubon later named it after Edward Harris, who accompanied Audubon up the Missouri River to the current region of Minneapolis/St. Paul in 1843.

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