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Song Sparrow     song sparrow

 Identification and Pictures

(Melospiza melodia)

Song sparrowSong sparrows are 5 to 7 inches.  They have a light brown head with a white streak that runs from the beak over the top of the eye to the back of the head.  Their brown bill is short for a sparrow.  The adults have a streaked breast with a black spot in the center.  They have a long, rounded tail, which they hold cocked up, and pump up and down, as they dart around with their short fluttering flight.  

Young birds have finer steaks, and may not have the spot.  There are many subspecies with variations from one area to another.

Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

Range and Habitat

song sparrowSong sparrows range across North America.  Birds in northern ranges may migrate to southern U.S. and Mexico, others are resident year round.  They like open areas, marshes, thickets, shrubs around field edges, and backyards.  They may be seen flitting through low branches, and vegetation, or hopping, and running on the ground.  Song sparrows are solitary birds during breeding season, but they may be found in small flocks with other birds such as House sparrows in winter.  

Breeding and Nesting

Song sparrows are very territorial, and males defend their territories with chases and fights.  Although Song sparrows are territorial they often build their nests in close proximity to each other.  They are usually monogamous.  They build their nest on the ground, in a bush, or in grass.  The female builds the nest of grass, leaves, weeds, and bark, and lines it with grass, hair, and rootlets.  She will incubate 3 to 5 greenish white eggs with dark marks for 10 to 14 days.  Both parents will feed the young a diet of mostly insects.  The young birds will leave the nest within 2 weeks, but they will stay around the parents for 3 more weeks.  The birds may have several broods in a year.

Song and Call

Song sparrows will sing a series of notes that vary from musical to a buzzy sound.  Males may have up to 10 different songs, repeating one several times before switching to another.  They will perch in a bush or tree as they sing.  A high tic sound is an alarm call.  Listen to Song Sparrow

Food and Feeding

Natural foods for sparrows are insects, seeds, and berries, which they forage for in shrubs, and on the ground.

For more on food and feeding click here.
For more on feeders click here.



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