|Conservation status||In recent decades, has declined or disappeared in some former nesting areas east of the Mississippi River. Still fairly common and widespread in West.|
|Family||New World Sparrows|
|Habitat||Open country with bushes, trees; pastures, farms, roadsides. For nesting, generally favors areas with some open bare ground and some taller plants; included are overgrazed pastures, sandy barrens, hedgerows near fallow fields, brushy dry grasslands, sometimes open pinyon-juniper woods. In migration and winter, found in similar areas, also open weedy fields.|
Does almost all its foraging while walking about on the ground in open areas. Typically forages in small, loose flocks.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. Creamy to grayish white, spotted with brown and black. Incubation is by female, 11-12 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-10 days after hatching.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-10 days after hatching.
Mostly seeds and insects. Feeds heavily on seeds, especially in winter, including those of grasses and weeds as well as waste grain. Also eats many insects, especially in summer, including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and many others. Young are fed mostly insects, also some grass seeds.
In courtship, male may strut about on the ground near the female, with his bill pointed up and his tail spread wide to show off the white corners. Nest: Both sexes may take part in choosing nest site, with male placing twigs at potential site, but female does actual building. Site varies; often on ground near base of tall weed, but may be up in shrubs or low trees, up to 7' above the ground, sometimes higher. Sometimes may nest in crevices in rocky cliffs. Nest is an open cup of grass, weeds, twigs, lined with fine grass, rootlets, animal hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates relatively late in spring and early in fall. Small numbers appear on the Atlantic seaboard in fall, mostly along the immediate coast.
- 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 CallsAlternating buzzes and melodious trills.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Lark 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 Lark 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.