|Conservation status||Undoubtedly has declined with loss of marsh habitat, but still widespread and common. Localized salt-marsh race on Atlantic Coast could be vulnerable to habitat loss.|
|Family||New World Sparrows|
|Habitat||Fresh marshes with tussocks, bushes, or cattails; sedgy swamps. Breeds mostly in freshwater marshes with good growth of sedges, grass, or cattails, often with thickets of alder or willow; sometimes in swampy thickets around ponds and rivers. Also breeds locally in salt marshes on middle Atlantic Coast. During migration and winter found mainly in marshes, but also in streamside thickets, rank weedy fields.|
Forages mostly on the ground, especially on wet mud near the water's edge, and sometimes feeds while wading in very shallow water. Also does some foraging up in marsh vegetation.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. Pale green to greenish white, heavily marked with reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, probably about 12-13 days. Male may feed female on the nest during incubation. Young: Both parents bring food to the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-13 days after hatching. Often 2 broods per year.
Both parents bring food to the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-13 days after hatching. Often 2 broods per year.
Mostly insects and seeds. Feeds heavily on insects, perhaps more so than related sparrows, especially in summer. Diet includes many beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and many others, as well as other arthropods. Also eats many seeds, especially in fall and winter, including those of grasses, weeds, and sedges.
To defend nesting territory, male sings from a raised perch, such as the top of a cattail or a shrub in the marsh. May sing by day or night. Nest: Placed in marsh vegetation such as cattails, sedge tussocks, or bushes, often directly above the water, up to 5' high; perhaps sometimes on the ground. Nest (probably built by female only) often has bulky foundation of coarse grass and other marsh plants, with inner cup of fine grass. Dead cattail blades or other leaves often arch over the nest, so that the birds must enter from the side.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Most of those breeding in western Canada probably move eastward in fall to winter in the Southeast; however, small numbers occur widely in the West 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 CallsSweet, musical trill, all on one note.
Learn more about this sound collection.