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Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia


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Song Sparrow
credit: Ken Thomas

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family

Description ADULT Has streaked brown back, reddish brown wings and tail, and two pale wing bars. Crown is brown with pale central stripe. Face is gray overall; dark eyeline emphasizes the pale supercilium. Has a pale malar stripe and dark border to whitish throat. Breast and flanks are brown and streaked. Underparts are otherwise mostly whitish, but undertail coverts are streaked. Overall, most eastern (described previously) and southwestern birds are warmer brown than most western birds. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but more buff overall.

Dimensions Length: 5-7" (13-18 cm)

Habitat Common in open habitats; widespread resident, but a summer visitor to interior north.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range Alaska, Florida, Plains, Great Lakes, Northwest, California, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Southeast, Texas, New England, Western Canada, Southwest

Voice Song comprises three or four whistles followed by a trill and variable rich, fluty notes; call is a flat cheerp.

Discussion Familiar, rather long-tailed songster. Central breast spot (not always obvious) is a useful field mark, but not exclusive to this species. Mixes with other sparrows in winter and visits feeders. Shows plumage and size variation across its range with numerous subspecies recognized; eastern birds are fairly uniform and are described below. Sexes are similar.