Saturday, January 31, 2015

Striped Sparrow Mania

Early this month, on January 11, Rich Kostecke discovered a Striped Sparrow along County Road 428 in eastern Williamson County. This is an incredible find as the species is native to Mexico and lives a sedentary life. There is some question as to how this rarity got to the United States and whether it will be "countable" by American Birding Association rules, but that doesn't matter to us. We just appreciate any excuse to go birding! Apparently we're not the only ones who feel that way, as over 120 birders have driven out to that remote spot in eastern Williamson County to date, even coming from as far away as Colorado just to see it. There is now a eBird "hotspot" dedicated to this single bird.

The sparrow has been spotted every few days this month, foraging at the same location along the road side. Local birders apparently are putting out seed for it. We have been to the site twice and saw it both times. On our first visit on Jan 18, we were in the company of 20 or so other birders. Despite the blind curve on a narrow county road (on which the locals drive pretty fast), many had their tripods set up in the middle of the road. A local we talked to on our second visit, January 24, mentioned seeing lawn chairs stationed across the road. I am sure the local residents are pretty perplexed by the crazy birders who have invaded.

In addition to the Striped Sparrow, we also saw several additional species of sparrow: Harris, White-Crowned, White-Throated, Lincoln, Swamp, Song, and Chipping. A rare Red-Headed Woodpecker has also been spotted repeatedly at the site. We, unfortunately, missed it both times, but we heard the Pileated Woodpecker that has also been seen, and we also saw Red-Bellied, Ladder-backed, and Downy Woodpeckers nearby.

Our pictures are of low resolution due the distance from which they were taken but clearly show the field marks on this small sparrow.




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