Saturday, January 15, 2011

American Tree Sparrow - Murray County

Upon news that Max Medley had discovered an adult AMERICAN TREE SPARROW at Carter's Lake, I went right over. Max observed the bird between 2-2:30pm along the Powerhouse Rd. I arrived on site at approximately 3:40 and within five minutes, had re-found the bird about one hundred yards from where Max had it. It was perched in some bramble on the right(west) side of the road. This brushy area is approximately .75 miles from Old Hwy 411. On the right there is a check/maintenance building. If facing the building: To the right is a dItch, and here was the bird.

The sparrow quickly flew to the roadside and began to forage. It was noticeably longer than the surrounding Field Sparrows. Bright rufous cap, eyeline and shoulder-spots were easily distinguishable. The bicolored bill and bright bold wing-bars were dead giveaways. The bird was in feeding posture, so the central breast spot was hidden from view the majority of the time. When the bird was alert and erect the bold dark spot could be seen.

It returned to the same area(roadside, near power pole & guard-rail) each time it and the other sparrows were flushed by passing traffic. I tried to get close for a good photo, but the bird became skiddish. I felt that I'd better not harass it before others had an opportunity to enjoy it, so I backed off. I rattled off about twenty shots, but only one is diagnostic, and blurry. I stayed at a distance of at least one hundred feet and watched it in this same spot for 45 minutes through the scope.

This evening the bird was staying with a flock of about two dozen sparrows, made up of Songs, Fields, Savannahs, & White-throats. At approximately 4:40 a car flushed them and they did not return, but retreated into the ditch bramble where I initially found it. From here they began to forage in the grass/lot in front of the building.

Mark McShane will be added some video and GPS coordinates.

According to the Annotated Checklist, there are only four accepted records, along with three other reports.

Good find, Max!

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