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SPID Key – Clear Breast

Clear Breast Sparrows

Clear breast – may have central spot or dark under chi but little to no streaking

Wing bar – Yes

  • Field Sparrow
  • Golden-Crowned
  • White-Crowned
  • Chipping
  • White-Throated
  • American Tree


Wing bars may be faint in summer, winter birds have stronger wing bar and white eye-ring.


Eye ring – yes, including partial

Field Sparrow – pink bill, pale rufous and gray head, bushy, weedy, low shrubs, fence lines


Faint or none

Clay-Colored Sparrow– stripped crown, eye line, light gray eyebrow, verticle throat stripe, wing bar in spring – open bushy areas and fields

Golden-Crowned Sparrow – golden yellow on the front of the crown, wide black eyebrow line – dense undergrowth of parks and woodlands

White-Crowned Sparrow – white crown, strong black and white head pattern – thickets, edges of woody areas, weedy areas, and backyards

Chipping Sparrow – red crown, white eyebrow, and black eyeline, non-breeding plumage has brownish, streaked crown and cream-colored eyebrow. Woodland and thicket edges, sometimes open grassy areas/backyards

White-Throated Sparrow – yellow lores, cream to white eyebrow, white throat. Bushy areas, undergrowth in parks and backyards.

American Tree Sparrow – central spot, red crown, gray eyebrow,  and reddish eyeline. Winters in weedy fields, seen along fence lines with small trees.


Wingbar – Faint or none

  • Rufous-Crowned
  • Black-Throated
  • Grasshopper
  • Brewer’s
  • Cassin’s
  • Swamp
  • Black-Chinned
  • Clay-Colored
  • Bachman’s
  • Lark


Eye ring – yes, including partial

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow – rufous crow, pale malar with parallel black stripe. Rocky hillsides, brush/grass.

Black-Throated Sparrow – black throat, bold black and white face pattern. Desert/open ground.

Grasshopper Sparrow – buffy wash on chest, pale eye ring, orange spot in front of the eye. Secretive, thick grass.

Brewer’s Sparrow – small bill, long tail, grayish neck, non-descript. Open bushy areas, sagebrush.

Cassin’s Sparrow – non-descript, clear breast, may have pale streaks on sides, spotted back. Dense grass, bushy areas.


Eye ring – faint or none

Swamp Sparrow – rufous wings, black eyeline broader at the back of the head, gray above and below eye, reddish brown crown/blurry chest streaks non-breeding. Often near water, weedy, grassy, and bushy areas.

Black-Chinned Sparrow – gray with brown wings, black around face in breeding plumaged male, pink bill. Dry bushy areas, chaparral and scrub oak.

Clay-Colored Sparrow – brown ear patches with dark outline, white central crown stripe, dark mustache stripe, wingbar in spring. Open bushy areas and fields.

Bachman’s Sparrow – gray eyebrow, reddish-brownish eyeliner, streaked back, buffy wash on breast of many birds. Piney woods in open grassy areas and palmetto stands, secretive.

Lark Sparrow – distinctive red, white and black face batter, central chest spot, fan-like tail with white tipped feathers. Short grassy areas, yards, open woodlands.


sparrow identification


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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