Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lightning Does Strike Twice! - 27 Dec 2015

I took a quick look out the back window here at Brownton Abbey to see if any activity was occurring, and to see if the Golden-crowned Sparrow might make an appearance. The first flock of House Sparrows seen in several days were actively feeding on sunflower seeds, but one bird looked larger and 'brighter' than the rest. Holy Smokes, a Harris' Sparrow! Incredible! A Harris' Sparrow in the yard here in Brownstown Twp, Wayne Co., MI!

Luckily, I had just popped the Nikon 1 V3 on the 300/2.8 VRII + 1.7TCII teleconverter via the FT1 adapter from Nikon, so I had 1377mm of lens to photograph the bird.

Robin and I were just on the way out the door, so I quickly texted Ann Smith (President, Erie Shores Birding Association, and neighbor) to let her know about the bird. 30 minutes later I got a call from her indicating that she had stopped by, but had not seen the bird. We were now back home, so I invited her to stop by the house and wait for the sparrow to return. When she arrived I showed her the Harris' Sparrow on the computer. Her reply, "Why are you showing me a Harris' Sparrow? I thought you had called me about the Golden-crowned Sparrow!!"

Within about 10 minutes the Harris' Sparrow had returned, and she was able to get nice looks for several minutes before it flushed, again.  It would return once more about 30 minutes later, then again  just before last light (at about 5 pm). Meanwhile, Ann was telling me how she had hosted a Harris' Sparrow in her yard many years ago just after moving in.

The Harris' Sparrow (Zonotrichia querula) is a large sparrow of the central plains and the only breeding endemic of Canada. It is rarely seen far east or west of its range, with only a few records from Michigan each year. We hardly ever see them in the lower peninsula, so it showing up in Wayne Co. is a real treat! The map at left is an eBird range map for sightings this year.

The Golden-crowned Sparrow also made a 1-minute appearance just before she had arrived...

The Zonotrichia Slam! All four birds in the yard since moving here to Brownstown in May. And three of them today (White-throated Sparrow).

I inquired with the Homeowner's Association and was told that there shouldn't be a problem to have folks by, as long as they are on my property, so I posted to Mich-Listers and Facebook. I'm suspecting that it will hang around a couple of days, at least, with best chances for being seen early morning.  With construction going on next door and across the street, I'm suspecting that bird activity will be very light at the feeders due to noise and people. We'll see!


Cathy Carroll said...

And an amazingly attractive Harris's Sparrow, too!

Mark Wloch said...

Now you're just showing off.

dlmiller said...

What are you feeding that is drawing in these unusual birds? I want to put that
in my feeder too :-)

dlmiller said...

What are you feeding to draw in these unusual sparrows? I'd like to put it in my feeder too :-)

BobTarte said...

Amazing photos, Jerry! Great bird.

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