While many birdwatchers think of sparrows as LBJ’s–’little brown jobs’–there are some that are both quite distinctive and that may frequent backyard bird feeders. The Harris’s Sparrow is not only distinctive but I think most handsome in it’s breeding plumage: black forehead, crown and nape plus a black bib on an otherwise gray face and highlighted by a pink bill. Their underparts are white with black streaking along it’s sides.
Even their backs are distinctive–a pretty brown laced with black streaks.
Harris’s Sparrows are found mid-America and mid-Canada birds as can be seen by the range map below. However, I live about 200 miles west of their range but found the bird in these photos and a second one traveling with it just the other day in south central Colorado. Though they may be seen a little west and a little east of the areas identified in the map, folks in the East and West will have to travel to the center to see them.
Though I have yet to have the privilege of having a Harris’s Sparrow come to my feeders, I recently communicated with someone in northern Colorado who has had two of them coming to her feeders daily for the past 5 months! And she loves it. I have also seen posts on various facebook sites from backyard bird enthusiasts who have these neat sparrows coming to their feeders.
Harris’s Sparrows are ground feeders so prefer food located on or near the ground. They are known to eat black oil sunflower seeds, suet, peanut butter, cracked corn, and dried fruit.
For sure once you have seen one of these beauties you won’t think of sparrows just as little brown birds anymore.