[Tweeters] 2 Harris' Sparrows, Chewelah

Nita Hamilton hamiln at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 3 16:51:01 PST 2008

Yesterday, Norma and Dale Wendt, and my husband Clarke and I drove to the Farm to Market and Heine Rds. intersection (south of Chewelah, off Hwy 395) to look for the HARRIS' SPARROWS. Shortly after we arrived one lit briefly in a tree near the 1st driveway up Heine Rd. (behind the weedy fields and barns near the 2 blue silos). From the car 3 of us got a short look before it and its accompanying sparrow buddies (Song and White-crowns, along with Slate-colored Juncos) flew up the hill. Gina arrived shortly after that and after we drove to the house and got permission from the property owner, she, Norma and I pished and walked almost the entire area listening and watching for sparrows, but hardly saw any. They had simply disappeared. We gave up after an hour's search.

Today Clarke and I drove back up there to try for better looks. Great success! 2 Harris' Sparrows hopped up on some weeds on the west side of the pond quite soon after we arrived but weren't visible long. Clarke and I stayed way over an hour and with my 2nd calling session 2 immature Harris' Sparrows hopped up on top of the tallest weed that borders the west side of the "pond", where they sat for a couple minutes, white undersides and black necklaces, along with pink bill, plainly visible to Clarke in the car. From my vantage point east of the ponds I could see their "crests" and pink-billed wheat-brown faces. The sparrows probably do not go anywhere when they disappear, just drop to ground level of the thickest weeds where they are too tall and thick to actually walk through. Sometimes I would hear a faint call or see a weed move so I think that's where they are when they have disappeared.

Of interest today along with lots of local Song Sparrows were at least 2 very red Song Sparrows with small red-streaked necklaces and pendants close to the throat and very white undersides. Their faces were gray patterned with red.

What I found today that worked better than my pishing were barely audible whistles through my teeth. That brought the sparrows up 2 or 3 times during the time we were there, the Song Sparrows coming up first. The birds spooked a couple times and hunkered down in the thickest weeds, once when a NORTHERN SHRIKE, appearing to be carrying something in its beak, flew over then landed in that nearby brushy tree for about 30 seconds.

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