There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Harris's Sparrow

Zonotrichia querula

Large sparrow
Pink bill
Black bib, forehead and crown
Brown back with dark streaks
Underparts white with some streaks along side
Two white wing bars
Breeding plumage:
    Grey cheeks
Non-breeding plumage:
     Brown cheeks
    Similar in appearance to non-breeding adults but lack the black face and head

Listen to its call.

The Harris's Sparrow is rarely found east or west of the middle of North America. So, I have to wonder what this foolhardy one was doing in a garden in Oak Bay. He appears to be overwintering in Victoria, having joined a flock of Golden-crowned Sparrows. Apparently, it is not uncommon for smaller birds to form mixed-species flocks in winter. The benefits? It both improves foraging and reduces the risk of becoming prey.  hmmm .... Maybe this little one isn't featherbrained after all.

Learn more about the Harris's Sparrow.

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