Harris's Sparrow

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Harris's Sparrow

Harris's sparrow photo
Zonotrichia querula
Emberizidae (sparrows, longspurs, buntings) in the order Passeriformes

Black throat, face and crown contrasts with gray or tan cheek. Whitish belly with streaked flanks. Two white wing bars. Pink bill. Western Missouri is as far east as a third relative of the white-throated and white-crowned sparrows typically ranges. Harris's sparrows nest in the stunted boreal forest of the extreme north, but winter in brushy fields and open woods of the nation's heartland. The Harris's sparrow is one of our largest sparrows and might be confused with a male house sparrow. A Harris's sparrow's black bib, face and crown contrast sharply with its gray cheeks, white belly and pink beak. (Male house sparrows have gray caps and beaks.) In winter, the black is mixed with gray and tan, which gives it a patchy appearance. In early spring, adult birds molt into a breeding plumage which is much more handsome.

Length: 7 1/2 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: 
This species breeds in stunted boreal forests of northern Canada, but its winter range includes the Dakotas down to Texas. It commonly winters in brushy fields and open woods in western Missouri.
Forages for seeds in brushy woodland edges, weedy fields and thickets.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide; more common in the western half.
Common migrant in western Missouri; rare in the eastern half. Uncommon winter resident in western Missouri and occasionally statewide.
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