Nebraska Ornithologists' Union
Date of this Version
Brogie, “Eurasian Tree Sparrow—A First Record for Nebraska,” from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2007) 75(4).
On Thursday, 01 February 2007, Scott Raasch of rural Madison County called to say he had what he believed to be a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) coming to a feeder at his house just east of Enola. The bird had been present for about a week, although he had just identified the species upon purchasing a new field guide. He reported that the bird was very wary and only stayed for a short time at the feeder. The bird was most often observed in the early morning or just before dusk.
Dave Heidt and I arrived the following evening and were told we had just missed the bird by a few minutes. We saw a photo that Scott had taken of the bird earlier in the day and it was clearly an adult Eurasian Tree Sparrow. We waited until dusk without seeing the bird.
Ellen Brogie, Dave Heidt, and I arrived before sunrise on 03 February, and after a wait of about an hour the bird appeared. Ellen was able to get several photographs of the bird during the few minutes it spent at the feeder. We waited for another hour or more without the bird reappearing.
The bird was in the company of several House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) and had the general body structure and appearance of a male House Sparrow, but with very distinct differences. The most notable feature that stood out was the black auricular spot surrounded by white. The bird was noticeably smaller than a House Sparrow and nearby House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). The bird had a brown crown rather than gray of a male House Sparrow. The bird did not possess as much black on the throat as a House Sparrow and the white neck collar was also very distinctive. From the back, the bird appeared to be a small House Sparrow. Although Eurasian Tree Sparrow is known to hybridize with the House Sparrow (Leckie, 2001) the bird appeared phenotypically pure and showed no characteristics of hybridization discussed by Leckie.
Copyright 2007 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.