Sagebrush Sparrow – My Tiny Nemesis

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Sagebrush Sparrow perched on a dead greasewood branchSagebrush Sparrow perched on a dead greasewood branch – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday I went back to the location on Antelope Island State Park where I photographed the Yellow-rumped Warblers, Spotted Towhee and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher hoping that some of those migrants would still be around. Some of the birds were there but a cold, sharp wind coming from the north seemed to be keeping them down, at least while I was there. My best sightings of the morning were an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Hermit Thrush but much to my dismay they were both too far away to get high quality images of them.

The cold north wind reminded me that I need to stick my gloves in my camera backpack again, my hands hurt because they were so cold yesterday.

Yesterday when I posted all the small birds I found on Antelope Island (and a few from Farmington Bay), I held back on sharing a few of the species that I saw flitting about, gleaning insects, eating seeds and hiding in the bushes.

One of the birds whose images I held back on posting was a Sagebrush Sparrow that I saw pop up and perch on a dead branch of a greasewood. Since I moved to Utah I have had this species in my viewfinder a mere three times and they have become my tiny nemesis birds. When I saw and photographed the first one I was ill prepared because I was only carrying a 70-300mm VR lens attached to my camera and the bird was just beyond the reach of that lens. The second time I had one in my viewfinder it was also too far away and I had a horrible light angle to boot.

When this Sagebrush Sparrow popped up I had to take photos of it even though I would have liked it to have been a little closer than it was. It didn’t stay there long but I was happy that I was able to photograph it at all.

Sagebrush Sparrows are very territorial and come back to the same location year after year  so what I need to do is find one of their territories next year and go there and just wait for them. You can’t find these birds while zipping down a road at 35 mph, not even with my keen eyesight. It just doesn’t happen.

I think the Sagebrush Sparrows are beautiful, elegant birds and I want more photos of them than I have! They are heading south now with the other migrants so maybe I will have more opportunities with them before they are gone for the winter.

Life is good.



  1. Patty Chadwick September 27, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Rather than “beautiful” I think these little birds are cute as heck!!!

  2. April Olson September 27, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I agree, beautiful little bird.

  3. Elephants Child September 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Sparrows are beautiful (and sadly underesteemed) birds. Thank you.

  4. Marty K September 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Congratulations on a nice shot with an interesting pose of your “nemesis.” 🙂 I like the slightly disheveled look of this little guy.

  5. Laura Culley September 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

    This is an entirely new species for my awareness! Wish there was more sage around here, but we’ve got PLENTY of greasewood–mostly everywhere!

  6. Liz Cormack September 27, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Such a sweet little bird.

  7. Steve September 27, 2017 at 8:10 am

    It really is an elegant little bird

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