Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Amish Country Visitor

A few miles down the road from Wooster's Secrest Arboretum, the heart of Ohio Amish country spreads across Wayne and Holmes Counties. It is a favorite place to bird, as the folks are friendly, the birds are numerous and the scenery- is just delightful.

One never tires of this type of scenery, and it is plentiful in Wayne County.

I met up with Greg Miller and Nathan Madison, to try once again for the Harris's Sparrow.

Greg and I have set the record for missing out on this bird- this was our third trip! I would like to show you photos of the home and children, but that would be disrespectful to the family. Amish people do not wish to have their photos taken, so I limit my photography to barns and buggies... and a few good birds. We are grateful for their hospitality, and do not wish to offend.
Troyer's farm is a wonderful place to visit, with a warm wood-stove and a clean windows to view the feeder set-ups (this photo shows only one of many.) They attract many species of birds, and not just your average cardinals and jays. Each visit provided good looks at species like Carolina Wren, Pines Siskins, and White-crown sparrows in abundance along with all of the other regular "feeder" birds.

But this winter, their son, Andy found a special visitor at the feeders. A young Harris's Sparrow has been making regular appearances, much to the delight of Ohio's birding community. Of all the sparrow species found in Ohio, the White-crowned sparrow (left) and this Harris's Sparrow (front right) are two of the "lookers," as far as sparrows go!

Handsome youngster, isn't it? Third time was a charm, and so it goes with a "chase bird." There is never a guarantee that the bird will be there when you arrive; our persistence paid off.

So why would we want so desperately to see this sparrow? As the USGS map shows, a Harris's Sparrow's routine migration is well to the west of Ohio. But each winter, we may get one off-course Harris's visiting in Ohio and they generally stay for several months once they arrive. But I have not seen a Harris's Sparrow for several years, and this opportunity was just too good to miss.
Besides, the Troyer family's hospitality made this adventure feel like a visit with old friends, or rather- new ones.


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