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Harris's Sparrow - January 25, 2004

Harris's Sparrow at Sugar Grove, Warren County, PA

After a few days of watching it feed in his yard, this Harris's Sparrow was first reported by the property owner, Scott Stoleson of Sugar Grove, on December 22, 2003.  Unfortunately it disappeared the very next day when a warm front moved through and melted all the snow.  After weeks of absence, it was believed that the bird had moved on, but it was discovered again in the same place over one month later, and the next day these photos were taken.
Initially, we found the sparrow as reported almost immediately after our arrival, and it allowed prolonged views for nearly fifteen minutes around 8:30 am.  Then it disappeared, and despite our waiting over an hour for it to reappear, it did not.  We left the area and returned about 90 minutes later, and failed to find the bird again despite a 45 minute search.  It seems that to guarantee a sighting one must be present during the sparrow's initial morning feeding, because it becomes more irregular in its appearances after that.
This particular bird presented a particular photography problem.  Harris's Sparrows in general, with this individual being no exception, are very wary, so setting up a scope and waiting for a digiscoping opportunity was not really possible since the bird was there when we arrived and we did not wish to scare it away.  We ended up using the car as a blind, but we were too close for any pictures using the scope, yet too far away to hand-hold the camera alone and expect anything good.  I had to improvise and take the pictures handholding the camera up to my binoculars using only the car window as a brace... and was pleasantly surprised by the results!


This picture (below) was the panicked "just get the bird documented" picture, and was taken with just the camera alone, zoomed to optical-4x and enhanced to digital-4x making an effective magnification of 16x (35mm equiv. ~500mm).  Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.


Photos by Geoff Malosh

Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the photo caption, all photos on this website were taken by and are 2003-2013 by Geoff Malosh. Unauthorized usage of these photographs for any purpose is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in using any photo for publication or if you are interested in obtaining a print, contact me at pomarine -AT- earthlink -DOT- net.