Song Sparrow – Nest | Habitat | Food | Call | Facts | Migration

Song Sparrow

The song sparrow, scientific name Melospiza melodia is a medium-sized New World sparrow. Among the native sparrows in North America, it’s simply some of the considerable, variable, and adaptable species. In this article, I am going to talk about Song Sparrow sound, vs house sparrow, nest, food, habitat, call, song, facts, etc.

Song Sparrow profile

A wealthy, russet-and-gray bird with daring streaks down its white chest, the Song Sparrow is among the most acquainted North American sparrows.

Don’t let the bewildering number of regional variations this bird exhibits throughout North America deter you: it’s one of many first species it is best to suspect when you see a streaky sparrow in an open, shrubby, or moist space.

If it perches on a low shrub, leans back, and sings a stuttering, clattering song, a lot the higher.

Washington’s Song Sparrows are giant, darkish, closely streaked, chunky birds. The face has darkish streaks via every eye and on both aspects of the crown, with grey between the darkish streaks. Both upperparts and underparts are additionally streaked.

The streaks on the breast typically converge right into a central breast spot, however many different streak-breasted sparrows also can have a central spot like this, and thus this discipline mark is just not diagnostic.

The tail is long and infrequently held cocked up, and is pumped up and down in flight.

Song Sparrow Description

Adult song sparrows have brown upperparts with darkish streaks on the back and are white beneath with darkish streaking and a darkish brown spot in the midst of the breast.

have a brown cap and a long brown rounded tail. Their face is grey with a brown streak in every eye. They are extremely variable in size throughout quite a few subspecies.

The body size ranges from 11 to 18 cm (4.3 to 7.1 in) and the wingspan can range from 18 to 25.4 cm (7.1 to 10.0 in). Body mass ranges from 11.9 to 53 g (0.42 to 1.87 oz).

The common of all races is 32 g (1.1 oz) however the widespread nominate subspecies (M. m. melodia) weighs solely about 22 g (0.78 oz) on common. The most lifespan within the wild is 11.3 years.

The eggs of the song sparrow are brown with greenish-white spots. Females lay three to 5 eggs per clutch, with a mean incubation time of 13–15 days before hatching.

In the sphere, they’re most simply confused with Lincoln’s sparrow and the Savannah sparrow.

The former will be acknowledged by its shorter, grayer tail and the differently-patterned head, the brown cheeks forming a clear-cut angular patch.

The Savannah sparrow has a forked tail and yellowish flecks on the face when seen up shut.

Song Sparrow Distribution and life history

Though a habitat generalist, the song sparrow favors brushland and marshes, together with salt marshes throughout most of Canada and the United States.

They additionally thrive in human-dominated areas equivalent to in suburbs, agricultural fields, and alongside roadsides.

Permanent residents of the southern half of their range, northern populations of the song sparrow migrate to the southern United States or Mexico throughout winter and intermingle with the native, non-migratory inhabitants.

The song sparrow is a really uncommon vagrant to western Europe, with a number of recorded in Great Britain and Norway.

These birds forage on the bottom, in shrubs, or in very shallow water. They primarily eat bugs and seeds. Birds in salt marshes may eat small crustaceans. They nest both in a sheltered location on the bottom or in bushes or shrubs.

Song sparrows with areas of shrub cowl of their territory, away from the intertidal shoreline, have larger over-winter survival, in addition to increased reproductive success.

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Color pattern

Song Sparrows are streaky and brown with thick streaks on a white chest and flanks. On a more in-depth look, the pinnacle is a horny mixture of heat red-brown and slaty grey, although these shades, in addition to the quantity of streaking, differ extensively throughout North America.

Song Sparrow Song

The sparrow species derives its name from its colorful repertoire of songs. Enthusiasts report that one of many songs heard typically in suburban places carefully resembles the opening 4 notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

The male makes use of a reasonably advanced song to declare possession of its territory and appeal to females.

Singing itself consists of a mix of repeated notes, rapidly passing remoted notes, and trills. The songs are very crisp, clear, and exact, making them simply distinguishable by human ears.

A particular is set not solely by pitch and rhythm but in addition by the timbre of the trills. Although one bird will know many songs—as many as 20 totally different tunes with as many as 1000 improvised variations on the fundamental theme,—not like thrushes, the song sparrow often repeats the identical song many instances before switching to a special song.

Song sparrows sometimes are taught their songs from a handful of different birds that have neighboring territories. They are almost certain to be taught songs that can be shared between these neighbors.

Ultimately, they are going to select a territory near or changing the birds that they’ve discovered from. This permits the song sparrows to handle their neighbors with songs shared with these neighbors.

It has been demonstrated that song sparrows are in a position to distinguish neighbors from strangers on the idea of the song, and in addition that females are in a position to distinguish (and like) their mate’s songs from these of different neighboring birds, and so they want songs of neighboring birds to these of strangers.

Song Sparrow Habitat

Song Sparrows stay in quite a lot of dense, brushy thickets. In eastern Washington, they’re restricted to shrubby habitats near water.

Look for Song Sparrows in practically any open habitat, together with marsh edges, overgrown fields, backyards, desert washes, and forest edges. Song Sparrows generally go to bird feeders and construct nests in residential areas.


Song Sparrows are solitary and extremely territorial in the course of the breeding season however are present in free flocks throughout migration and winter.

They forage totally on the bottom, generally scratching the soil. They will come to bird feeders with enough cowl shut by. These birds sing nearly all year, and reply to ‘pishing.’


Typical of the family, Song Sparrows eat bugs and seeds, with a larger proportion of seeds within the fall and winter, and a larger proportion of bugs within the spring and summer season.

Song Sparrow Nesting

Song Sparrow nesting territories are sometimes small, so nests could also be shut collectively leading to excessive densities.

Nest websites are extremely variable, often on the bottom below a clump of grass, or in a shrub inside 4 ft of the bottom. In marshy areas, nests are sometimes over water.

The nest, built by the feminine, is an open cup of weeds, grass, leaves, and bark, lined with positive grass, rootlets, and hair.

Nest supplies differ vastly relying on the supplies accessible. The feminine incubates the three to five eggs for 12 to 14 days.

Both dad and mom feed the younger, which go away the nest at 10 to 12 days. Young birds keep close to their dad and mom for an additional three weeks till they are taught to fly nicely and discover their very own meals.

Predators and parasites

Common predators of the song sparrow embody cats, hawks, and owls, nevertheless, snakes, dogs, and the American kestrel are handled ambiguously, suggesting that they’re much less of a menace.

The song sparrow acknowledges enemies by each instinctual and discovered patterns (together with cultural studying), and adjusts its future conduct based mostly on each of its personal experiences in encounters and from watching different birds work together with the enemies.

Comparisons of experiments on hand-raised birds to the commentary of birds within the wild recommend that the concern of owls and hawks is instinctual, however, the concern of cats is discovered.

Song Sparrow Migration

Song Sparrows are resident all through a lot of their range, though the northernmost populations are migratory. Resident populations lengthen as far north as coastal Alaska.

The wintering range stretches throughout the southern United States and dips into northern Mexico. Birds at excessive altitudes may descend into the lowlands in the course of the winter.

Western Washington breeders are year-round residents, however, some eastern Washington breeders migrate. Interior British Columbia breeders additionally winter in western Washington.


Four subspecies of Song Sparrow are present in Washington, three of which breed within the state. One subspecies breeds from western Washington over the Cascades and into the Columbia Basin.

A second breeds in eastern Washington, east of the Columbia River. A third subspecies breeds in south-central Washington. Breeders in far-eastern Washington are smaller and paler than the western breeders.

In winter, a small, pale subspecies come into western Washington from breeding grounds inside British Columbia. Song Sparrows are widespread and considerable in North America and in Washington.

Logging and suburban sprawl have elevated the quantity of shrubby habitat in lots of forests and suburban areas. Song Sparrows are one of Washington’s commonest birds, and the Breeding Bird Survey has indicated a small, not statistically important increase in Washington from 1980 to 2002.

Song Sparrow Facts

The Song Sparrow is discovered all through most of North America, however, the birds of various areas can look surprisingly totally different. Song Sparrows of the Desert Southwest are pale, whereas these within the Pacific Northwest are darkish and closely streaked. Song Sparrows of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain are even darker, and so they’re enormous: one-third longer than the eastern birds, and weighing twice as a lot.

The range of the Song Sparrow is steady from the Aleutians to the eastern United States. There’s additionally a remoted inhabitant that lives on the plateau of central Mexico, about 900 miles from the following closest inhabitants. These Song Sparrows have white throats and chests with black streaks.

Song Sparrows appear to have a transparent concept of what makes an excellent nest. Field researchers working for a few years on the identical parcels of land have seen that some alternative spots – the bottom of a rose bush or a selected hole below a hummock of grass, for instance – get used again and again, even when completely new birds take over the territory.

Despite the massive variations in size and coloration throughout the Song Sparrow’s range, genetic divergence is low. High charges of immigration and emigration might maintain populations genetically related, whereas native selective situations keep bodily variations.

Like many different songbirds, the male Song Sparrow makes use of its song to draw mates in addition to defend its territory. Laboratory research has proven that the feminine Song Sparrow is attracted not simply to the song itself, however to how nicely it displays the flexibility of the male to be taught. Males that used more discovered parts of their songs and that higher matched their song tutors (the grownup bird they discovered their songs from) have been most popular.

Some scientists assume that Song Sparrows of moist, coastal areas have darker plumage as a protection in opposition to feather mites and different decay brokers that thrive in humid climates. The darker plumage accommodates more of a pigment known as melanin, which makes feathers harder and tougher to degrade than lighter, unpigmented feathers.

The Song Sparrow, like most different North American breeding birds, makes use of growing day size as a cue for when to return into a breeding situation. But, different cues will be essential too, equivalent to native temperature and meal abundance. An examination discovered that male Song Sparrows from the coast of Washington state got here into breeding situation two months sooner than Song Sparrows within the close by mountains, the place the daylight modifications have been the identical, however, temperatures have been cooler and bushes budded out two months later.

Song Sparrows typically lay two or more clutches of eggs per breeding season. In distinctive circumstances, equivalent to when sources are considerable or predation causes the lack of a number of clutches in a row, Song Sparrows have laid as many as seven clutches in a single breeding season, and have efficiently reared as much as 4 clutches.

The oldest identified Song Sparrow was at the least 11 years, Four months old when it was recaptured and rereleased throughout banding operations in Colorado.

Other Recommended Reading


In the spring and summer seasons, Song Sparrows are some of the conspicuous of all sparrows. Males sing typically, perching round eye stage on uncovered branches. Also look ahead to Song Sparrows transferring alongside wetland edges, ducking into dense, low vegetation after brief bursts of their distinctive, tail-pumping flight. Learn more about Java sparrow.

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