Harris’s Sparrow Update

It seemed a good omen for the Harris’s Sparrow that had been visiting my yard regularly to show up on January 1. But then it disappeared. I fretted that something had happened to it. While I had many other interesting winter visitors, the absence of the jaunty Harris’s Sparrow left a void.

And, then on Jan. 27 when I glanced out my window shortly before 8:00 am, there it was! It fed for a short time, and then disappeared. In November and December, it returned to the yard several times a day. The early morning visit would be its pattern from this point on.  “It must be two-timing me,” I told friends. “We no longer have an exclusive relationship.”


My time slot on its schedule was generally between 7:30 and 8, although sometimes it would arrive later.Home---HASP-3-1-19

Starting in March, it seemed to recognize that the White-crowned Sparrow was of the same Zonotrichia genus with similar foraging habits, and always seemed to be in the company of one or more White-crowned Sparrows.

While I wouldn’t see it every day, by the second week in April it began to show signs of molting into its basic plumage.


April 9 – beginning molt

Every day it appeared would be a gift. I was sure that it would be migrating soon.


April 20 

On April 24 a Lincoln’s Sparrow appeared and stayed for three days.


5 1/2″ Lincoln’s Sparrow 

The size difference between this sparrow that belongs to the Melospiza genus, and the Zonotrichia Sparrows was really apparent – an almost 2 inch difference in size.

By April 27 I began reporting it on eBird as “lingering” rather than “continuing.” I was sure that each day would be its last. It was in full breeding plumage.


April 29 

On April 30, it didn’t arrive until 9:34. It appeared very skittish and flew off when I raised my camera to take its picture from the window.


On May 1 I had to leave early to drive to Carlsbad for the Central New Mexico Audubon Thursday Birder Birdathon. It hadn’t arrived before I left. It hasn’t been back – and none have been reported on eBird since May 1. Hopefully, it is safely making its way back to the northern forests of central Canada tundra region.

What a privilege it has been to have it visit my yard – at least fairly regularly for almost five and a half months, and to be able to observe its habits and molt changes.

2 thoughts on “Harris’s Sparrow Update

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