Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

After making a maximum effort in 2018 on the birding front, this year I have ratcheted back a bit. The main difference is the amount of effort I devoted to twitching rare birds. Last year I chased or went out of my way to find at least 14 birds, whereas in 2019, until last week anyway, I had only twitched one bird in Ontario.

That bird was a Hermit Warbler, which I thought worth going after because (a) it was a life bird for me, (b) it was less than two hours away, and (c) there was a reasonable probability that it would stay put.

So assuming that those are my 2019 criteria, when I got wind of a Harris’s Sparrow visiting a feeder in The County[1], I was tempted. The day was wintry with snow flurries forecasted so I might have prevaricated a bit, but Jim Thompson was up for a try so off we went.

Harris’s Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow is a prairie bird that breeds in northern Manitoba, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. This makes it Canada’s only endemic breeder – i.e. a bird that only breeds in Canada. So I had to see one. For national pride, y’know. 😊

The beastie winters from South Dakota down to Texas. It is normally seen on migration, sometimes in large numbers, in the Rainy River district but it is a distinctly uncommon visitor to southern Ontario. Perhaps this one took a wrong turn near Albuquerque?

The Chase

On the way down we suffered the usual nameless dread of twitchers, namely that the bird would not be there, or worse, was seen flying off south ten minutes before we arrived. But this time at least it all turned out rather nicely. Fifteen minutes after we arrived we had clocked the blighter, and it then proceeded to hop around obligingly giving what my British friends would call “crippling views”.

Harris's Sparrow

And a smart looking bird it was, in full adult non-breeding plumage. Allowing for the fact that I am particularly partial to sparrows, this was a really nice bird to see.

Harris's Sparrow

And the point is… ?

Nothing really. Just a nice bird so I wanted to put the photos up so my legion of followers could have a chance to appreciate the creature. 😊

Harris's Sparrow
In a more natural setting

[1] Prince Edward County, to the uninitiated.

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