HARRIS’S SPARROW

HARRIS’S SPARROW(Zonotrichia querula) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Harris’s Sparrow breeding adult has a black forehead, face and throat, and some black extending down the breast. Head is black and brown. Back, wings and tail are medium brown with dark brown streaks. Face sides and neck are grey. Under parts are light grey with some dark spots on the flanks. Conical bill is pinkish orange, eyes are dark brown, legs and feet are pinkish grey. Juveniles have less black. Sexes are similar. Bird length is around 18 cm (7 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Zonotrichia-querula
NAME: ‘Sparrow’ derives from Anglo-Saxon ‘Spearwa’, which means ‘flutterer’, and it has been applied to many small birds (Choate). The name ‘Harris’ was given to that bird in honour of American ornithologist Edward Harris. Latin genus name ‘Zonotrichia’ is from Greek and means ‘band’ and ‘hair’. Latin species name ‘querula’ means ‘plaintive’, in reference to the bird’s song.
HABITAT: Between boreal forest and open tundra in summer; forest edges, shrub land in winter, also rural gardens.
DIET: Seeds, berries, insects, also some flowers.
NESTING: Nest is placed on the ground under thick vegetation. Around four light green eggs are laid, incubated by female. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in north central Canada up to the tree line; winters in south central USA. During migration can be found in central regions between breeding and wintering grounds.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris%27s_sparrow – /media/File:Zonotrichia_querula_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Numbers appear stable, population widespread, currently not at risk.
NOTES: This species is the only breeding bird endemic to Canada.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Lapland Longspur, House Sparrow
REFERENCES: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/harriss-sparrow (Missouri Department of Conservation)
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/538/identification/Harriss_Sparrow.aspx
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/harriss-sparrow
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABPBXA4050 (Montana Field Guide)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Zonotrichia_querula/ (University of Michigan)
https://birdatlas.mb.ca/accounts/speciesaccount.jsp?sp=HASP&lang=en (Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris%27s_sparrow

Harris's Sparrow - Ennadai Lake, Nunavut - Dec. 2014 - photo by Alan D. Wilson
Harris’s Sparrow – Ennadai Lake, Nunavut – Dec. 2014 – photo by Alan D. Wilson
Harris's Sparrow - near Denton, NE - Oct. 2017 - photo by ADJ82
Harris’s Sparrow – near Denton, NE – Oct. 2017 – photo by ADJ82
Harris's Sparrow - Springfield, MO area - Feb. 2017 - photo by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren
Harris’s Sparrow – Springfield, MO area – Feb. 2017 – photo by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren

BACK TO THE TOP