Sparrows of Hermits’ Rest

Today I am taking a mental health break and just having fun outside. I spent a really long time this morning watching the edge of the woods to figure out how many kinds of sparrows are flitting around in the brush. We get so many in winter, and it’s easy to see them with the cedar elm leaves all shed out.

Where there are sparrows

The first ones I saw were Harris’s sparrows. These are really easy to ID because they have black faces. We get them every winter.

Also they have very pink bills.

They aren’t common in much of the US, but you sure see them in the brush here. Sorry for these stock photos, but I couldn’t get photos.

The blue is the non breeding range.

Most of the sparrows were white-crowned sparrows. You hear them more than you see them. You hear their lovely calls all around you, then hear rustling. That’s the sparrows rummaging through the leaf litter looking for food.

Blurry but easy to ID.

When you finally see them, their heads shine at you, at least the males. They are vibrantly black and white. A spectacular little bird and lots of fun to watch, especially as they flit around in groups going from tree to tree.

I want a bug.

Others stay in one spot for quite some time. I guess there are lots of tidbits to eat there. I will spare you more blurry photos, but it was fun trying to get them.

Once I got out the binoculars and started looking that way, I found the third brush-dwelling sparrow at Hermits’ Rest Ranch in winter, the white-throated sparrow. They look a lot like the white-crowned, but have a bit of yellow above their eye near their beaks.

The bill also helps you tell them apart.

The Field Sparrows

We also have a variety of sparrows in the fields, completely different types. Most are vesper sparrows. These are the biggest ones, and their white tail feathers make them easy to ID. I never get close enough for a good photo, though.

There’s two of them. Take my word.

The vesper sparrows are here all year, even though the maps say they aren’t. There’s another smaller sparrow here now, which I’m not sure if they are savanna sparrows or song sparrows. Well, I’m better at this than I used to be!

We also have lots of meadowlarks right now. They fly really differently from the sparrows, though. And the killdeer are here in the fields, too. It’s quite busy!

Oh, I wanted to share one more visitor, a pair of greater yellowlegs, who have been sharing the pond behind the house with the huge great heron.

Three water birds.

I didn’t know yellowlegs swam, but for sure they weren’t ducks! Then they stood up and I knew what they were. There’s always something new to learn about nature.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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