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Project Prairie Birds

A Citizen Science Project for Wintering Grassland Birds

Henslow's Sparrow Sighting Report

Photo Henslow's Sparrow Copyright by Michael L. Gray

Photo of Henslow's sparrow
Copyright Michael L. Gray

Details of Winter 1998-1999 Henslow's Sparrow Sightings in Texas by County

Compiled by Cliff Shackelford and Dan Brooks
Please send any correspondence to:

Listed in alphabetical order by county. Letters next to county numbers indicate multiple sites within that county.

Some abbreviations used: CBC (Christmas Bird Count), NWR (National Wildlife Refuge), SP (State Park), and WMA (Wildlife Management Area).

Map of Texas Showing Counties for Henslow's Sparrow Sightings; links to larger map.

Map of Texas Showing Counties for Henslow's Sparrow Sightings
(Listing of sightings included below map.)

Henslow's Sparrow Sightings Reported for winter 1998-1999 in Texas

1. BOWIE: Grassy field behind dam north of viewing blind at Lake Wright-Patman; one seen 11/7 and 12/12 by Mike Dillon.

2. BRAZORIA: One on Freeport CBC, Tom Collins (compiler).

3. BRAZOS: Lick Creek Park during College Station CBC; one bird in semi-wet field on 12/19 by Mark Shavers.

4. CASS: Private property near the community of O'Farrell in the north-central part of the county; two birds on 10/18 by Ray Berry.

5a. CHAMBERS: Smith Oaks Audubon Sanctuary in High Island; one bird in grassy area inside fence west of newest parking lot on 11/15 by Don Verser.

5b. West of Boy Scout Woods in High Island; one bird was in a grassy area on 12/13 by Don Verser.

5c. East side 'shorebird management unit' of Anahuac NWR; two birds on 12/26 by Greg Cook and friends.

5d. One bird on 12/27 during the Bolivar Peninsula CBC, Bill Oraber (compiler).

5e. Two birds on 12/29 during Old River CBC, P.D. Hulce (compiler).

5f. Smith Point; one bird at Candy Abshire WMA on 2/20 by Don Verser. There were possibly as many as 3-4 Henslow's in this seasonally-wet grassland.

6. FORT BEND: Brazos Bend SP; one bird near a meadow above Hoots Hollow near parking lot of Prairie Trail on 1/30 by Vicki Crutchfield. Possibly three Henslow's were in this prairie with knee-high grasses and scattered brush, but only one bird was seen well.

7. FREESTONE: Richland Creek WMA; one bird on the late date of 4/11 by Truman Powell.

8. HARRIS: Nelson's Farm of the Katy Prairie; one bird on 1/16 by Phil Jones, Dan Brooks, Dennis Walden, Flo Hannah and Ginny Hartman.

9. HARRISON: Unnamed site mentioned as a Henslow's Sparrow hotspot on pp. 187-188 of Ed Kutac's 2nd Edition "Birder's Guide to Texas"; one on 11/14 by Dorothy Metzler, Mike Dillon, and others. Four birds were seen the very next day (11/15) by Tim Fennell.

10. HENDERSON: North of Trinidad; two birds on 1/17 by Truman Powell.

11a. LIBERTY: East of Cleveland; immediately north on Hwy. 105 about one mile east of
intersection with Hwy. 321; northeast of water tower but south of south-most gravel
road; through undeveloped subdivision between CR2234 and CR2235 on 1/16 by John Whittle. Four birds in 4-6" tall grassland with clumps of 12-18" tall grasses; wet from recent rains but otherwise a dry site; also scattered pine trees (30-50' tall).

11b. Tarkington Prairie; Trinity River CBC on 12/28 by P.D. Hulce; 7 birds (5 in "bluestem- like" grassland, while other 2 in "fallow field-like" habitat).

12a. MARION: Gray Cemetery just south of the tiny community of Gray on the north shore of Caddo Lake (near the Texas/Louisiana state line); the cemetery is located on FM727 about a mile south of the intersection with Hwy. 49; one bird was seen on 1/13 by Cameron Cox.

12b. Near the communities of Smithland and Gethsemane during the Caddo Lake (unofficial) CBC; one bird on 12/5 by Tony Messina.

13. MATAGORDA: Mad Island Marsh CBC, Jim Bergan (compiler); three birds seen in a seacoast bluestem grassland' on 12/21/ by two observers.

14. MONTGOMERY: W.G. Jones State Forest; one bird seen in a grassy area off FM1488 three miles west of IH45 on 11/28 by Dawn Carrie.

15. NACOGDOCHES: The Lewis Farm (private property); 5.5 miles south of the Nacogdoches Loop on FM1275; from one to five birds seen in same pasture on at least six visits spanning from 11/18-3/10 by David and Mimi Wolf, Jack Windsor, and others.

16. NAVARRO/FREESTONE County Line: Off Hwy. 287 at the Richland Creek WMA; one bird seen on 1/30 and 2/28 by Truman, Sharon and Roy Powell.

17. NEWTON: Temple-Inland's Scrappin' Valley (private property); one bird on an unknown winter date by Ross Carrie.

18a. RAINS: Lake Tawakoni; near dam on east side of Hwy. 47 at county line, but north of Sabine River bridge in grassy habitat lacking forbs and woody plants; one bird seen off- and-on from 2/21-3/17 by Brian Gibbons, Peter Billingham, Ed Wetzel, and many others.

18b. Dallas County Audubon Society's sanctuary site (even though this is not Dallas Co.!); two birds on 11/7 by Bob Stone and others.

19a. SAN JACINTO: Sam Houston National Forest; 4-5 miles south of Cold Spring; one bird seen on 3/21 by Dawn Carrie.

19b. Sam Houston National Forest; 2 miles south of Evergreen off Hwy 945 at the Oudoor Nature Club's Little Thicket Sanctuary, Cullinan Meadow; one bird seen throughout much of Jan. and Feb. by A.K. Stoley. Cullinan Meadow was formerly a poorly farmed peanut monoculture (most of the topsoil eroded, leaving a pebbly yellow clay), though several types of grasses are coming back. The grass is not very thick and varies in height (2-12+"). There are a few yaupon bushes, a few hackberries and juniper in the meadow.

20. SAN PATRICIO: Welder Wildlife Research Foundation (private; 8 miles east of Sinton); three birds were seen on 12/18 on their CBC, Terry Blankenship (compiler); in a very lightly grazed pasture (few bulls only) of Little Bluestem, Setaria spp., Love-grass spp., running mesquite (low), etc.

21. SMITH: Near the west shore of Lake Tyler; southeast of Tyler off Hwy 848 and McElry Road at Camp Tyler from 11/29-12/7 by Peter Barnes and Alan Byboth. One bird in wet field with 6-12" high grass and low bushes near a small pond.

22. WALKER: Sam Houston National Forest; two birds east of Huntsville State Fish Hatchery in early Jan. by Dawn Carrie.

In Summary

Approximately 60 individuals were seen from a total of 31 sites in 22 Texas counties spanning from 18 October 1998-11 April 1999. Group size ranged from one to seven individuals with an average of 2.0 individuals per sighting.

Undoubtedly, there are additional unsubmitted sightings for the winter 1998-99, but this Henslow's report is the first of its kind since the species was removed from the Texas Bird Record Committee's (TBRC) List of Review Species in 1994. No documentation (i.e., photograph, field sketch, specimen) was required before including it in this informal report.

The decline in this species, as well as in many other grassland species, is the main reason Project Prairie Birds (PPB) was initiated. For details on this citizen science project and how you can help, please explore this site further.

For Additional Information write to:

Project Prairie Birds Program
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
or send a message to: