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Harris' Finch

Harris' Finch

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Harris' Sparrow.]

[Zonotrichia querula.]


The discovery of this beautiful bird is due to my excellent and constant friend EDWARD HARRIS, Esq., who accompanied me on my late journey to the Upper Missouri river, &c., and after whom I have named it, as a memento of the grateful feelings I will always entertain towards one ever kind and generous to me.

The first specimen seen, was procured May 4th, 1843, a short distance below the Black Snake Hills. I afterwards had the pleasure of seeing another whilst the steamer Omega was fastened to the shore, and the crew engaged in cutting wood. This was on the west side of the river, at a place lately occupied by Indians engaged in making maple sugar. The country was hilly, the timber large, and the abandoned camp of a party of Indians, proved to us that game was abundant in the neighbourhood, as we saw the remains of Deer, Wild Turkeys and Pigeons strewed around the hut, where the pots and kettles of these sons of the forest had manufactured the sugar.

As I was on the look-out for novelties, I soon espied one of these Finches, which, starting from the ground only a few feet from me, darted on, and passed through the low tangled brushwood too swiftly for me to shoot on the wing. I saw it alight at a great distance, on the top of a high tree, and my several attempts to approach it, proved ineffectual; it flew from one to another tree top as I advanced, and at last rose in the air and disappeared. During our journey up the stream my friend HARRIS, however, shot two others, one of which proved a female, and another specimen was procured by Mr. J. G. BELL, who also was one of my party. Upon our return voyage, my friend HARRIS had the good fortune to shoot a young one, supposed to be a female, near Fort Croghan, on the 5th of October, which I have figured along with a fine male. The female differing in nothing from the latter.

All our exertions to discover the nest of this species were fruitless, and I concluded by thinking that it proceeds further northward to breed.

HARRIS' FINCH, Fringilla Harrisii, Aud.

Male 7 1/8, 10 7/10.

Found on the Upper Missouri. Not abundant.

Adult Male.

Bill dusky; head and throat black, descending by streaks of the same colour on the breast. Cheeks and a broad line nearly meeting on the nape, ash-grey; back dull bay, streaked with brownish-black; rump dull olivaceous; edge of wing whitish. Two bands of white on the wings, formed by the tips of the secondary coverts and first row of small coverts. Tail feathers brown, edged with light greyish-olive. Sides of the breast thickly streaked with black dots. The lower parts white, tinged with light brownish-yellow. Legs dusky, the claws darker. Second quill longest.

Bill along the ridge 1/2 inch, along the gap 5/8; from bill to pinion 1 5/8; to end of wing 5 inches, to end of claws 6 1/8, to end of tail 7; alar extent 10 7/16; wing from flexure 3 7/16; tarsus 7/8; middle toe (5 1/2)/8, its claw 1/4; hind toe (2 1/2)/8, its claw 3/8. Feet cinnamon colour.

Young, supposed to be a Female.

The general appearance is the same as the above, as well as the colouring, except that the upper part of the head is covered with black feathers, each edged with yellowish-brown, as well as the sides of the head. A streak of black descends from the base of the lower mandible, and the upper parts of the breast and sides are thickly streaked with deep brownish-rufous; lower parts as in the adult; measurements the same. The adult female exactly as in the male.

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