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Identification of the Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow.

four sparrows

These 4-widespread species are often confused with on another. This direct comparison will make the differences easier to see. The song sparrow regulary shows a central chest spot, but the 3 other species may also have a central spot, so do not make identification soley on this mark. The savannah and vesper sparrow are typically seen in open, grassy habitats. The song and Lincoln´s prefer more cover.


Song Sparrow

Relatively heavier streaks than other species and heavy malar (p.xx) mark. Strong line behind the eye, smooth eyeline and cheek. This song sparrow shows a more distinct eye ring than the benchmark song sparrow shows.


Lincoln Sparrow

Clear gray above and below eye. Dark eyeline. Finer streaks than on song sparrow and buffy wash across upper chest.


Savannah Sparrow

Streak-headed appearance, yellow lores. Streaks finer than on song sparrow. Some races( p.xx) are much darker with heavier streaks.


Vesper Sparrow

Similar to savannah but more prominent eye ring. Compare length of wing tips vs that shown on benchmark song sparrow photograph. White outer tail feathers show in flight.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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