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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Harris' Sparrow -- Zonotrichia querula

RANGE: Breeds from northwestern and east-central Mackenzie and southern Keewatin south to northeastern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba. Winters primarily along the eastern edge of the Great Plains, although it may be found from southeastern Alaska and southern British Columbia to northern Colorado and central Iowa, and south to California, Texas, and western Tennessee.

STATUS: Fairly common.

HABITAT: Breeds in the Canadian subarctic, in open clearings, woodland edges, and brushy margins of burned-over areas bordered by spruce forests. During winter, inhabits brushy habitats, preferring woodlot borders and hedgerows.

NEST: Builds nest in the ground, usually in mossy hummocks surrounded by water near stunted spruce trees, often under a low shrub on a sheltered southern exposure. May also locate nest in dry clearings under small trees within 100 feet of a lake.

FOOD: At all seasons, chiefly eats seeds of weeds, grasses, and wild fruits, but includes insects in diet, especially in summer. Primarily feeds on the ground.

REFERENCES: Baumgartner in Bent 1968c, Forbush and May 1955, Kaufman in Farrand 1983c, Semple and Sutton 1932.

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