|Conservation status||Common and widespread, numbers probably stable. Nests often parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbird.|
|Family||New World Sparrows|
|Habitat||Open woods, conifers, orchards, farms, towns. Original breeding habitat probably was mainly open pine woods, coniferous forest edges, savanna with scattered conifers. Still breeds in such areas but now also very common in suburbs, city parks, orchards, pastures, other altered habitats. Winters in open woods, thickets, farmland, brush.|
Forages mostly on the ground, but also up in shrubs and low trees. Occasionally makes short flights to catch insects in mid-air. Except when nesting, usually forages in flocks.
3-4, rarely 2-5. Pale blue-green, with markings of brown, purple, and black mostly at larger end. Incubation is by female, about 11-14 days; male may feed female during incubation. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 8-12 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 8-12 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects and seeds. Diet varies with season. In summer, feeds mostly on insects, including grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers, true bugs, and many others, plus some spiders. Also eats many seeds, especially in fall and winter, including those of grasses, weeds, some waste grain.
A few males have more than one mate. Nest site varies. Usually in a conifer, but can be in a deciduous tree or sometimes on the ground; usually lower than 15' above the ground, but can be up to 60' or even higher. Nest (built by female) is a compact open cup made of grass, weeds, rootlets, lined with fine grass and animal hair. At one time, when Americans were more rural, the Chipping Sparrow was well known for using horsehair in its nest lining.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Often migrates in flocks. Migration is spread over a long period in both spring and fall.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsThin musical trill, all on 1 note like the whir of a sewing machine.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Chipping Sparrow
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Chipping Sparrow
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.