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Show Me Sparrows

December 26, 2011

Christmas Day.  My family made it into Missouri late the night before, so any sort of holiday activity we had planned was put off by 24 hours.  My son, still wired on the holiday (both Christmas and Hanukah.  We double-dip around here) in a way that only a two year old can be, finally went down for a nap after running around in circles since the moment he woke up.  As a birder celebrating the season with family, you take the opportunity to get out when you can, so when my dad suggested we go for a walk to the field behind the housing development where my parent’s live, and sweetened the deal with the revelation that he’d had Harris’s Sparrow there in the past, I was game.  So we headed to the the end of the road and turned into the old farm field following a flock of sparrows that we, or I, hoped would contain that elusive Harris.

We only had an hour, so the time to beat the brush eventually came to a close without that giant Zonotrichia, but there were plenty of other sparrows around to keep up busy, 11 species in all including a surprise Lincoln’s and a handful of American Trees, both of which pretty unusual in North Carolina and the second a review species to boot.

White-throated Sparrows are everywhere, as they are across much of the continent these days.  Still, when they get in front of you it’s hard not to take a photo.  Especially during those rare times when a feeder isn’t in the frame.

Fox Sparrows are uncommon in my part of North Carolina, and generally signify a good day in the field.  In Missouri, though, they’re everywhere.  That’s a hard thing to get my mind around.

Also, too, White-crowned Sparrows.  These were the indicator species for Harris’s Sparrow presence.  There were lots of them around, especially in the more open, brambly parts of the field.  They may not have quite the cache as their more range-restricted co-geners for which we were searching, but they lack none of the class.  Great birds, especially in large numbers.

More to come from the Show-me State, my dad and I are off to the edge of the prairie to look for Smith’s Longspurs and the Harris’s Sparrows we missed yesterday.  You’ll, no doubt, hear about it whether we find them or not.

Stay tuned!

  1. December 29, 2011 9:28 am

    Fox Sparrows everywhere- I would love to see that!

  2. Nate permalink*
    December 29, 2011 9:47 pm

    @Chatterbirds – It’s every bit as amazing as it sounds.

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