Sparrows are a very large, beautifully plumaged sparrow species found only in
the interior of North America. They were one of the last North American
birds to have their nesting location discovered, when nesting Harris's Sparrows
were finally seen in the stunted scrubby spruces near the treeline in northern
Canada in 1931. They have adapted well to a human presence in North America,
and can often be seen on the ground in urban areas, utilizing bird feeders as
well as landscaped habitats.
Habitat: Open woods, brush, shelterbelts,
residential areas. In their breeding range in Canda, they are most often
found in boreal forest near the treeline, where evergreen trees are stunted.
Diet: Mostly seeds, insects, berries. Varies with season, may include more seeds
and berries in winter, insects in the summer.
Behavior: Primarily forages along the ground,
often scratching through leaf litter in search of food. Will also forage
through low vegetation.
Nesting: Non-Breeder in South
Dakota. In their Canadian breeding habitat, the nest is a cup built of
twigs, mosses, and lichens, usually placed on the ground under vegetative cover.
The female usually lays between 3 and 5 eggs, and she alone incubates them.
When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young. The young leave
the nest after about 10 days.
Song: Repeated clear tremulous
whistles in 1 pitch, followed at an interval by several clear notes in another
pitch. Calls sound like a loud metallic spink and a drawn-out tseep.
Migration: Winters in central to southern Great
Plains, summers in remote north-central Canada.
Similar Species: Generally distinctive, not easily
confused with other sparrow species.
Bird Feeders: Grains, mixed birdseed,
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Harris's Sparrow"
eNature.com: Harris's Sparrow
Photo Information: October 8th, 2008 - Minnehaha
County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Harris's Sparrow photos.