Harris’s Sparrow – Centre County, PA

Alex Lamoreaux|

Harris's Sparrow - basic plumage adult in Howard, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Yesterday morning, Bob Snyder was leaving his house in Howard, PA to go to work when he noticed an interesting sparrow at his backyard bird feeders. After snapping a few photos, Bob realized it was an adult Harris’s Sparrow! This morning, Drew Weber and I drove over to Bald Eagle State Park while we waited to hear back from Bob about whether or not we could watch the feeders at his house. Bob called and gave us the ok, and so we sat and waited. After just a few minutes, I spotted a White-throated Sparrow come in to the feeders and out of nowhere, the Harris’s Sparrow was right in front of us! Below are a few photos I took of the bird.

Harris's Sparrow - molting adult in Howard, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

This species is a casual vagrant to PA with only 13 previous accepted records for the state. This is the second Harris’s Sparrow ever recorded in Centre County, the first was seen on November 27th, 1983 in State College. According to records submitted to the records committee, this is only the 3rd spring record of a Harris’s Sparrow in the Ridge-and-Valley region of PA– more records are from the the northwest and the Piedmont in the southeastern part of the state. Harris’s sparrows are generally more concentrated in the central part of the country this time of year.

Harris's Sparrow - molting adult in Howard, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Harris's Sparrow - molting adult in Howard, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

About the Author

Alex Lamoreaux


Alex Lamoreaux has been an avid birder and naturalist since he was a youngster, growing up exploring the farmland and forested ridges near Hershey, Pennsylvania. He attended Hershey High School and Penn State University. Alex has worked on wildlife research projects, ranging from Whimbrel along the coast of Virginia to Yellow-billed Cuckoos in the desert southwest. Alex loves to share his knowledge of nature, as well as help to bring the birding community together to share the enjoyment that spending time in nature has to offer. Alex has helped to organize and coordinate birding events in his home state of Pennsylvania and beyond. He has traveled extensively throughout North America, Central America, and South Africa and is currently pursuing nature tour guiding, as well as continuing to refine his passion for wildlife photography.Contact Info for Alex Lamoreaux: aslamoreaux@gmail.com (717) 943-7086

  • This is my 4th Harris’s Sparrow in PA and probably my best views of one. It was so close!

  • Pingback: Little Gull and Harris's Sparrow - Centre County, PA by Alex Lamoreaux on Nemesis Bird()

  • Great bird! The silver cheeks are those of an alternate adult; basic plumage is quite tawny-faced. 

    • Thanks Rick, corrected above to molting bird.

  • Mary Alice

    Hi! I have a Sparrow that hangs out at my birdhouse hanging off my deck. He sings ALL day! I’m in Shavertown, PA. He and the house wren see who can sing loudest!!