Harris’s Sparrow

Common Name:
Harris's Sparrow
Scientific Name:
Zonotrichia querula
Type:
Birds
Size:
Length: 7.5 inches
IUCN Red List Status:
Least concern
Current Population Trend:
Decreasing

The behavior of this sparrow is much like that of the white-throated. Regularly occurring in medium-size flocks, it mixes sometimes with the white-throated, white-crowned, or other sparrows. Monotypic. Length 7.5".

Identification

Large sparrow, larger than other Zonotrichia. Bright pink bill; black crown, face, and bib variable by age and plumage; all show post­ocular spot. Breeding adult: extensive black from crown to throat; gray face. Winter adult: buffy cheeks; throat all black or with white flecks or partial white band. Immature: resembles winter adult with less black; white throat bordered by dark malar stripe.

Similar Species

Only other sparrows with black face are the otherwise dissimilar black-throated and black-chinned. The male house (not a true sparrow) has the same black throat, but is smaller, has bolder wing bars and a chestnut crown, does not have the bright pink bill, and behaves totally unlike an emberizid sparrow.

Voice

Call: loud wink. Flocking birds give a husky chatter. Flight note: a drawn-out tseep. Song: series of long, clear wavering whistles, often beginning with 2 notes on 1 pitch followed by 2 notes on another pitch.

Status and Distribution

Uncommon to fairly common. Breeding: stunted boreal forest. Winter: open woodlands, brushlands, hedge­rows. Migration: spring late March–late May; fall early October–early November. Vagrant: rare to casual east and west of narrow range.

Population

Stable.

—From the National Geographic book Complete Birds of North America, 2006

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet