Harris’s Sparrow at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on October 2, 2020

One of my birding stops this morning along the lake was Lake Park. There were a few birds there, but it was spotty. Looking at the feeder on the south end of the park my eye caught a sparrow near the feeder that just looked different. I only got a couple of photos and it headed into the Yews that it was feeding by. I hung around for about 10 minutes and it never came back out. I thought Harris’s Sparrow on the spot but with the glare on my camera, I really did not want to call it. I saw some white on the throat there was a chance it was a White-throated as there were very many in the area. A lady birder that was close by just said, that would be a surprise, she did not see the bird. With having a busy day I did not look at my images till evening. At that time I could really tell, a juvenile Harris’s Sparrow. A beautiful day out, but cold on the lake, sunny skies and a brisk wind. Image was taken on October 2, 2020.

The beautiful Harris’s Sparrow…

Harris’s Sparrow at the Mequon Nature Preserve in Ozaukee County Wisconsin on January 22, 2020

With not much going on bird wise I decided to try for the visiting Harris’s Sparrow that has been reported at the Mequon Nature Preserve. Normal range for the species is Minnesota west and south. After about 15 minutes the stunning male Harris’s Sparrow showed up with a small flock of American Tree Sparrows on the west end of the nature center. That viewing did not last long as all the birds were flushed by a vehicle coming through the parking lot. After about 30 minutes the birds returned briefly to an area on the south side of the nature center near a feeder. Not a life bird for the state for me but still an exciting bird to see. It was partly cloudy with mild temps around 25 degrees with no wind, a pleasant morning out. Images were taken on January 22, 2020.

The Harris’s Sparrow, male

Harris’s Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow photographed at Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha, WI on September 25th and 26th, 2013.

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

Binomial name: Zonotrichia querula

Category: Emberizids

Description: Brown face and back, both overlaid with black markings especially crown, face, and throat.  White on wings and underparts.  Pink bills and legs.

Size: 6.7″ – 7.9″ long, 11” wingspan

Weight: 0.92 oz. – 1.7 oz.

Habitat: Coniferous forests and tundras adjacent to bogs

Diet: Seeds, especially grass seeds, fruits, pine needles, and flower parts.  Scratches the ground to forage for food.

Nesting: Nests are built on the ground under the protection of a coniferous bush or in a bed of grasses.  Both parents construct the nest in mid-June using materials such as sticks, grasses, moss, and lichens.   The female will lay 3-5 eggs at a time, laying eggs at the end of June to the middle of July.  The young remain in the nest for about 3 weeks before becoming completely independent of their parents.

Notes: “Harris’s Sparrow” is named after ornithologist Edward Harris.  This bird will live nearly 12 years in the wild if not caught by a predator.  And, Harris’s Sparrow only breeds in Canada, the only bird to do so.

Harris's Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

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