The Curllsville Strips – #669!

In order for me to reach the magical “700 Club” of North American species sightings, I knew I needed to have the Henslow’s Sparrow. Each new bird from this point on is going to be a struggle…not to mention potentially expen$ive. But the Henslow’s is a breeder in my home state. An uncommon bird with a declining population, the eastern most part of its breeding range is 325 miles west of Bryn Mawr….in the Curllsville strips, north of Pittsburgh. It might as well be in Ohio. The Curllsville strips site is an aging reclaimed strip mine grassland, privately owned but open to the birding public. Armed with a reliable report of multiple sightings there this week, I could not resist the temptation to go out there (early) this morning. Music from the 70’s, intermittently spiced with ESPN sports radio, entertained me along the rather long stretch of I-80.

Within seconds of entering the strips site, I was greeted by a male Dickcissel…no shabby bird in its own right (I may have seen three in my lifetime), singing on territory.



Literally a minute later, as I drove slowly down the dirt road with all of the windows open,  I heard the distinctive “se-lick” song of the Henslow’s Sparrow in stereo…, it was more like SURROUND SOUND! Four or five of them were audible but hidden in the overgrown fields. And then good fortune struck. One brave male perched ten feet from my car!

Henslow's Sparrow

Henslow’s Sparrow

Door to door I was gone only 12 hours, having driven…do I dare admit it? 650 miles…sorry carbon-counters…it WAS a selfish act on my part. But today my Dad would have turned 90…so I shamelessly claim Lifer #669 in his honor!

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Curllsville Strips – #669!

  1. Alyssa says:

    Congratulations, George! What a gift on your dad’s birthday. Fondly, Alyssa

  2. Lisa says:

    A very fitting gift for your Dad:)

  3. Jeff Wahl says:

    Nice work!! Glad it delivered. Jeff

  4. Arlin says:

    Beautiful pix, George. I can’t wait for the coffee table edition of your photos!

  5. Anne Wood says:

    Change blogging address to


  6. Tom Mason says:

    Amazing … my Henslow’s was also in that area about 10 feet from my car, with others “singing” in the area! Great photo!

  7. Joe W. says:

    Outstanding! (i dont even have that Dickcissel)

  8. dawn says:

    Congratulations George!

  9. Joe Knowles says:

    A terrific birthday present for your Dad!

  10. Julie Kalis says:

    First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being in OHIO!! Secondly, great photos! Well worth the trip.

  11. Jim Buck says:

    “Good things come to those who wait” or something like that. Not that you’ve ever been accused of waiting for anything, Woody! But, your patient and methodical approach to this pursuit, combined with Billy F’s hybrid Escape SUV, makes you a most deserving recipient of #669 in my book, even with 12 more hours and 650 fresh miles under your belt! PS I too enjoy your beautiful photos. So real!

    • Greetings from Nova Scotia Jimbo! Love that you follow and comment! I need to “invite” Fordie in to this blog so he can see that his car is being well utilized. George

      Sent from my iPad

  12. Mike Selverian says:

    great stuff George! I love it!

    I saw a small black bird with red and yellow on its wings yesterday in Hershey. Beautiful. What was it?



  13. says:

    No more cccccomcast!


    I love your blogs, espec on Dad’s birthdays – but pick a better looking bird next time

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