A Huntington Look – Eurasian Tree Sparrow (11-06-11)

It may not have been a Huntington Look (Obamsick, The Big Yearpg. 175), but we all saw the sparrow pretty well perched at the top of the Burning Bush, surrounded by at least ten of it’s plebian House Sparrow cousins.  James Huntington had met us this morning at 8:00 AM in the lobby of the Coralville Super 8 to try for Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

John Vanderpoel, James Huntington and Jim Vanderpoel (Photo by Tom Vanderpoel)

It was great to see James again.  We searched at a spot along the Iowa R. only a ½ mile from the motel, but without any luck. So we drove southeast about 30 minutes to Cone Marsh. Though this bird isn’t common in Iowa, I had complete confidence that we would find the target. After all James Huntington, one of the leaders for the fabled Attours, was guiding us.  If he can find a Pin-tailed Snipe on Attu for Sandy Komito, he can find a little old Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Iowa, right?  And we were not disappointed; year-bird #730 was seen and photographed.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow with House Sparrow (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

But despite this success, I was restless. James had another pearl of information for me, a farmer in north central Iowa had confided in James that Gray Partridge were on his farm. But I first needed to hustle my brothers back to Chicago for a Citizens For Conservation workday. CFC is a private conservation organization that is using volunteer labor and expertise to restore native prairie, marsh and woodland habitat to its nature preserves.  CFC has had great success in attracting birds to its properties, and has created living space for such rare butterflies as the Eyed Brown, Black Dash and Dion Skipper in its restored sedge meadows.  CFC has even attempted a reintroduction of native fish to its rejuvenated prairie slough.  Some enthusiastic followers of my blog have pledged donations to CFC for each species I tick!  If you’re enjoying this blog, please consider donating to a worth conservation clause.


After the mornings success, James sent us on our way back to Chicago loaded with sandwiches and margaritas (not to be tasted till we were safely back in Chicago).  We arrived at 2:30 PM. After discussing the Gray Partridge situation on the phone, I hopped back in the car and drove 350 miles to Mason City. Tomorrow I try for Gray Partridge.  I’m moving fast, stay tuned.  Geese are turning up in the northeast.



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6 Responses to A Huntington Look – Eurasian Tree Sparrow (11-06-11)

  1. Scott Vanderpoel says:

    update the total on the top right!

  2. Tom Wilberding says:

    Okay, John, I enjoy your blog and Big Year effort, so I’ll mail $100 today to Citizens for Conservation, 459 West IL Rt 22, Barrington, IL 60010.
    That currently works out to 13.7 cents per bird. I am hoping you will bring that cost down by getting more birds by December 31!

  3. Jim McCarty says:

    Hey John:

    Looks as if they found this bird Sun., Nov. 6. Still there as of today.

    Good Luck!

    Subject: Barnacle Goose-W.Newbury-YES 11/7
    From: Bird Watchers Supply & Gift
    Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2011 14:49:03 +0000 (UTC)

    The barnacle goose was still present among Canada geese in the field across
    from the Artichoke Dairy on Rogers Street in West Newbury at 8:30 this morning.
    Doug and Lois were there and on the bird when I arrived. The flock was still
    present as of 8:45am.

    Steve Grinley
    Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift and Nature Shop at Joppa Flats
    Newburyport, MA USA
    REPLY TO: BirdWSG AT verizon.net

    Subject: Barnacle Goose Rogers St W. Newbury YES
    From: “Marjorie Watson”
    Date: Sun, 6 Nov 2011 19:56:21 -0500

    Several of us from Steve Mirick’s Brookline Bird Club trip to the NH seacoast
    were able to relocate the Barnacle Goose around 4:30 this afternoon and watched
    it until about 5:00 pm when we left.

    After some searching with no luck from the Pikes Bridge Rd trail looking back
    toward the farm, We were finally able to see the goose well from the Rogers
    Street in the field to the right of the farm buildings along the woods. Again –
    please respect the farmers wishes and do not trespass.

    Thanks to Phil Brown for posting the Barnacle Goose and getting the word out.
    thanks also to Steve & Jane Mirick for leading the NH trip today. it was a
    beautiful day to be out birding and sharing some fabulous birds with good

    Marjorie Watson
    Georgetown MA
    marjwtsn AT msn.com

    Subject: Barnacle Goose images – Nov. 06, 2011 – West Newbury
    From: Phil Brown
    Date: Sun, 06 Nov 2011 15:36:55 -0500

    The Barnacle Goose seen along Rogers St in West Newbury this morning
    moved to the back fields of the Artichoke Farm, also along Rogers St. A
    few folks checked with the people working on the farm and were told
    people were not welcome on the farm with all of the heavy equipment that
    is in use. I’m guessing the geese will move back to the water off and on
    through the day. Hopefully it sticks around for others to see!

    A few images from this morning can be seen at:


  4. Joe Roller says:

    GO, JOHN, GO!

    It’s always nice to see Eurasian Tree Sparrows anyplace but in East St. Louis. In the 1960’s a birding family in Beverly, Illinois, (wish I could recall the names) led me around their large farm, finding breeding Cerulean Sparrows and other goodies. They had fun taking birders back toward the farmyard by a circuitous route. From a valley you could look at the distant treetops through a scope, not realizing that the trees you saw were next to their barn. There in the scope were Eurasian Tree Sparrows, appearing
    as if they were in middle of the forest. Seeing them in that setting usually produced a big “Wow!” from visiting birders.
    Joe Roller, Denver

  5. John says:

    As requested, here’s my updated prediction for your final total: 735, maybe 736 or even 737. I’m figuring you have two “definites” left: Barnacle and Pink-footed Goose, and there’s about 11 to 17 likely vagrants. By “likely”, I mean there’s a relatively good chance of them showing up, but it’s still a small probability. Most of them will likely NOT show up, and I’m guessing maybe 3 will tops.

  6. John,
    When your in Mason City you might drop by Ventura, which is our sister city, but you won’t find any Allen’s Hummingbirds there…..

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