Last June a friend of mine asked me something about the `sparrows”.’ in his yard. I answered his question (can’t remember what the question or the answer was) and then told him that the `sparrows’ were actually House Finches. Like my friend, I had spent my life thinking that all the small brown birds I saw were sparrows. One of the first things I learned was that, while we do have sparrows here in the Texas Panhandle, they aren’t as numerous as I had thought. I started trying to ID birds last June and it was mid-September before I ID my first sparrow-a Rufous Crowned Sparrow.
Turns out that, including the House Sparrow (more about them later,) there are at least 22 species of sparrows that can be seen in Hutchinson County. Three of them-the Rufous-crowned, the Black-throated, and the House Sparrow are year-round residents. Cassin’s Sparrow, Lark Sparrows, and Grasshopper Sparrows are summer visitors. Three more migrate through each fall and spring (Clay-colored, Brewer’s, and Nelson’s.) The largest group arrive in the fall and stay all winter long.
The House Sparrow is the only non-native and was introduced in New York and Galveston in the mid 19th century to combat crop pests (no one thought to check to see if they ate bugs and such-they don’t) and they are found throughout the US now.
I’ve only been able to photograph (and so positively identify) the following 7 of the 22 species;