Just a quick blog update
On the winter solstice, I left work a little early to bird my way home through the 'west valley' in the remaining daylight. It was clear and beautiful out, and I felt I needed to go birding to honor the shortest day of the year.
Well, it didn't take long at all! I pulled up to the hedgerow where I usually start birding the west valley, and I got out and within seconds, spotted a Harris's Sparrow! It's a first-year bird - hatched this summer somewhere in the Canadian arctic, and now found itself in western Montana on its way south. It was tucked in the bushes with 8 Song Sparrows and 10 or more American Tree Sparrows! The farmer seems to be dumping old or rotted grain in the bushes, and it's attracted a lot of birds!
I tried for some photos of the Harris's, but didn't get the stellar shots I was hoping for. The Song Sparrows were more obliging. I plan on going back soon, and maybe the Harris's will stick around for the new year! We'll see!