Allen and all,

There is one component that is essential to good habitat for Sharp-tailed
Sparrow -- WATER!

Good habitat is difficult to survey since it often requires the use of
rubber boots or even hip waders.

Within large marshes, best areas are those with dense stands of sedges,
grasses, bur-reed and beggar's ticks, etc., and generally limited areas
of cattail.  Such areas are almost always quite wet, and I would estimate
that prime locations for Sharp-tailed Sparrows generally have from 2 to
10 inches of water.

No doubt Sharp-tailed Sparrow is far more numerous than is generally
realized, and that pertains to both Ontario and Michigan.

Years ago I was determined to find a Yellow Rail in the Point Pelee
Birding Area, so on October 8, 1995, I put on some hip waders and started
sloshing around in the NW part of Hillman Marsh (all within the current
diked pond area).

Never did find a Yellow Rail, but my Sharp-tailed Sparrow tally for the
day was 16 birds!  I quickly realized that the best spots for the
sparrows was always a certain distance out from the dry edges, again
where the water was from 2 to 10 inches deep.

Keeping the above observation of 16 birds in mind:

1)  This very area of Hillman Marsh is visited regularly by birders every
fall, yet the species is virtually never reported there.

2)  The Point Pelee Birding Area did not record its first fall-migrant
Sharp-tailed Sparrow until 1982!

I have no doubt that if a Michigan birder were to use some hip waders and
check some large marshes in the fashion described above, that they would
find plenty of Sharp-tailed Sparrows.  I would say that right now and for
the next 10 days or so would be prime time.

Alan Wormington,


On Tue, 12 Oct 2004 08:31:08 -0400 "Allen Chartier"
> Birders,
> I hope this is an appropriate topic for this list.
> In the past few years, there seems to have been an increase in 
> reports of
> Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow in the fall in Ontario, Ohio, and 
> Indiana.
> But, the species remains casual (Review List) in Michigan.  In the 
> 1950s,
> researchers in southern Michigan captured and banded a number of 
> (Nelson's)
> Sharp-tailed Sparrows in spring (mainly April) while working in 
> sedge marsh.
> It is my impression that this is not the habitat the bird is being 
> found in
> during fall migration.  Perhaps birders are not searching the right 
> habitat
> here, and I was wondering if anyone could describe the habitat(s) 
> where the
> sparrows are being found in Ontario, which might provide insights on 
> other
> places to search for the species.
> Thanks!
> Allen Chartier
> 1442 West River Park Drive
> Inkster, MI  48141
> Website:
> Michigan HummerNet:
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Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 13:15:58 -0400
From: Fred Helleiner <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
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Subject: [Ontbirds]Tufted Titmouse & Hudsonian Godwit Still @ Presqu'ile.
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The Tufted Titmouse has been seen every day since Saturday, varying its 
location from the feeders at 186 and 191 Bayshore Road to the bushes 
around the lighthouse, where Gerry Bird and Ken Sunderland found it this 
morning.  The lone remaining Hudsonian Godwit has also been seen every 
day up to and including today (Tuesday), usually on the beach between 
the start of the Owen Point trail (formerly beach 4) and Owen Point 
itself, but also occasionally on beach 3.  To reach Presqu'ile 
Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton.

Fred Helleiner

186 Bayshore Road,
R.R. #4, 
Brighton, Ontario, Canada, K0K 1H0
VOICE: (613) 475 5309 
If visiting, access via Presqu'ile Provincial Park. 

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