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threatened and/or endangered

White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys


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White-crowned Sparrow
credit: Wolfgang Wander/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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

Description ADULT Has dark-streaked brown back and reddish brown wings with two white wing bars; tail and rump are gray-brown, and has black eyestripe and black crown with bright white central stripe. Supercilium is very broad and white behind eye and plumage is otherwise mostly gray with limited brown on flanks. Bill is dull pink. JUVENILE Immature and first-winter recalls adult, but is heavily streaked above and below. First-winter recalls adult, but black elements of head pattern are brown.

Dimensions Length: 6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm)

Habitat Generally common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to weedy and brushy areas, sometimes seen in taiga woodland. Winters from southeastern U.S. to Mexico.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

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

Voice Song comprises a couple of piercing whistles followed by several bird-squeakerlike grating chirps; call is a sharp pink.

Discussion Distinctive sparrow that is widespread and familiar in winter, when it forms large flocks. Subtle subspecies variation exists across range; taiga breeders are described here. Sexes are similar.