|Conservation status||Some local populations are vulnerable to loss of habitat, especially those in coastal marshes, but species as a whole is still widespread and abundant.|
|Family||New World Sparrows|
|Habitat||Thickets, brush, marshes, roadsides, gardens. Habitat varies over its wide range. In most areas, found in brushy fields, streamsides, shrubby marsh edges, woodland edges, hedgerows, well-vegetated gardens. Some coastal populations live in salt marshes. Nests in dense streamside brush in southwestern deserts, and in any kind of dense low cover on Aleutian Islands, Alaska.|
Forages mostly on the ground, sometimes scratching in the soil to turn up items. Also sometimes forages in very shallow water (fractions of an inch deep) and up in shrubs and trees. Will come to bird feeders placed close to good cover.
Typically 4, often 3-5, rarely 2-6. Pale greenish white, heavily spotted with reddish brown. Incubation is apparently by female only, about 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young normally leave the nest about 10-12 days after hatching, remain with their parents about another 3 weeks.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young normally leave the nest about 10-12 days after hatching, remain with their parents about another 3 weeks.
Mostly insects and seeds. Eats many insects, especially in summer, including beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, wasps, and many others, also spiders. Feeds heavily on seeds, especially in winter, mainly those of grasses and weeds. Birds in coastal marshes and on islands also feed on small crustaceans and mollusks, perhaps rarely on small fish.
Males often defend only small nesting territories, so high densities of Song Sparrows may be present in good habitat. In courtship, male may chase female; may perform fluttering flight among the bushes with neck outstretched and head held high. Nest site varies, usually on ground under clump of grass or shrub, or less than 4' above the ground, sometimes up to 10' or higher. Raised sites may be in shrubs, low trees, or marsh vegetation, often above water. Rarely nests in cavities in trees. Nest (built mostly or entirely by female) is an open cup of weeds, grass, leaves, strips of bark, 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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Present all year in many parts of range, but birds from northern interior move south to southern United States or extreme northern Mexico in winter.
- 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 CallsSong consists of 3 short notes followed by a varied trill, sometimes interpreted as Madge-Madge-Madge, put-on-your-tea-kettle-ettle-ettle.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Song 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 Song 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.