Description 5 - 7" Heavy brown streaking on
(sometimes lacking in juveniles). Subspecies show
considerable variations in size and colors, ranging
from pale sandy to dark brown. Pumps its relatively
long, rounded tail in flight.
Habitat Forest edges, clearings, thickets, and
marshes with open grassy feeding areas;
undergrowth in gardens, city parks; low dense scrub
for nesting; tall vantage points for singing.
Diet Typical of the family, Song Sparrows eat insects
and seeds, with a greater proportion of seeds in the
fall and winter, and a greater proportion of insects in
the spring and summer.
Nesting Song Sparrow nesting territories are often
small, so nests may be close together resulting in
high densities. Nests are built by the females and the
sites are highly variable, usually on the ground under
a clump of grass, or in a shrub within four feet of the
ground. In marshy areas, nests are often over water.
The female lays 3-6 pale greenish-white, heavily
marked eggs in a neat, well-hidden grassy cup nest
often lined with hair, placed in a bush or on the ground.
The female incubates the 3 to 5 eggs for 12 to 14
days. Both parents feed the young, which leave the
nest at 10 to 12 days. Young birds stay near their
parents for another three weeks until they learn to fly
well and find their own food. Song Sparrows lay up to
3 clutches in a season.
Range Breeds from Aleutians and mainland Alaska
east to Newfoundland and south to California, North
Dakota, and Carolinas. Winters from southern
Canada throughout United States to Gulf Coast and
Song Sparrows are resident throughout much of their
range, although the northernmost populations are
migratory. Resident populations extend as far north as
The wintering range stretches across the southern
United States and dips into northern Mexico. Birds at
high altitudes may also descend into the lowlands
during the winter.
Voice Song consists of 3 short notes followed by a
varied trill, sometimes interpreted as
Discussion The Song Sparrow is one of the most
widespread, diverse, and geographically variable of
North American birds. The 34 recognized subspecies
range from very large, dark-colored, large-billed birds
on the rocky beaches of the humid Aleutian Islands to
small, sandy, short-billed birds in scrub desert areas
in the lower Colorado River valley.
Other subspecies are found in coastal salt marshes,
freshwater marshes, humid coastal belts, and dry,
They are quite the singers!