I birded so efficiently at the coast it left me ample time the next day to look for a rare Harris’s Sparrow. It was a first-year bird found by James Cook along Sundial Loop Trail near the Troutdale Airport.
It’d been a while since I birded this hotspot. My first trip in the spring of 2015 I biked there and saw my first Rufous Hummingbird and found a Great Horned Owl nest. That was a good day.
I checked on that nest again and sadly this time, no owls.
This morning it was dark and rainy but I was hopeful anyways. I came across two birders on the trail that I’ve met before and we reintroduced ourselves. Dena Turner and Mary Ratcliff and I then continued along, looking for “zonos” birder slang for Zonotrichia, the genus of five American sparrows included in the Emberizidae family; White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Rufous-collared Sparrow, and Harris’s Sparrow (Zonotrichia querula).
Zonotrichia is from Greek origin, zone “band” and thrix, trikhos, “hair.”
I could see that.
Querula is Latin for “plaintive” or “complaining” in reference to the Harris’s song. And while we’re going there, Harris’s Sparrow is named after Edward Harris (1799-1863), (not the actor), but ornithologist and friend of Jonn James Audubon.
Unfortunately, the morning resulted in zero zonos. But we did see some Lesser Goldfinch or maybe call them “spins,” short for Spinus?
Of course as soon as I got home, someone reported the Harris’s Sparrow. *face-palm* And at this point, Tomas had taken the car to go mountain biking. What was a good birder to do? Since it was my last chance before the work week started again and I’d have no time to bird, I grabbed a Car2Go rental and headed back. It was only a 20-minute drive from my house, and I figured, I’ve spent more on a bird before. Justified.
Within minutes of exiting the car, I saw my friend, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Bill and another birder on site, and moments later I was on the bird.
The Harris’s Sparrow hopped to the ground to munch on seeds that someone put out for the birds (thanks for that!).
Two other zonos were present, White-crowned Sparrow (no photos), and Golden-Crowned Sparrows.
I got a glimpse overhead of a Pileated Woodpecker that I’d only heard earlier.
And every once in a while a California Scrub-Jay would drop in and stir up all ground-feeders.
Dark-eyed Juncos scattered.
Spotted Towhees didn’t care much.
And eventually the handsome Harris’s would come back.
He was an ambassador for wildlife after all.
I was so glad I’d gone back! It was worth every penny.
Tweets and zonos,