I went looking for snow buntings going to a place recommended by a local birder. Didn't see them but on the way back, I stopped to photograph a Great Horned Owl and there were 2 little birds in the shrubs by the road. Only got this one mostly obscured pic but did get a good look at one of them. I remember it as a very light colored/whitish bird with a rusty crown and other rusty/yellowish patches. Later, I realized that this was probably my snow bunting. I had expected to see them in large groups in the grass. It did fly off and disappear into some grass right under the owl. Can you tell from this pic if this was a Snow Bunting?
Saw it in South Dakota north of the northern Black Hills by a farm that was close to Bear Butte.
A tree sparrow would be a lifer too, so now it's really killing me that I wasn't able to get a better photo! The birder that I talked to told me that if I saw a sparrow and it wasn't a house sparrow, it would be a tree sparrow. The other bird looked brownish but I didn't get a good look at it. You're probably right. They were probably tree sparrows. Don't worry. I'm not counting it. I did get a good look at it but at the time it reminded me of the Green-tailed Towhee I'd seen the week before. How crazy is that?!