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Description of the Field Sparrow

BREEDING MALE

The Field Sparrow has a gray head with much rufous in the crown, a white eye ring, a pink bill, brown wings with two white wing bars, and plain, buffy-gray underparts.  Length: 6 in.  Wingspan: 8 in.

Field Sparrow

 

Field Sparrow 2 gl
Photograph © Greg Lavaty.

Female

Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance

None.

Juvenile

Juveniles have streaked underparts.

Habitat

Field Sparrows inhabit brushy fields and woodland edges.

Diet

Field Sparrows eat insects and seeds.

Behavior

Field Sparrows forage on the ground or low in vegetation.

Range

Field Sparrows breed throughout much of the eastern and central U.S. Northern birds retreat somewhat in the winter, though Field Sparrows winter across much of the eastern U.S. and Mexico. The population has declined in recent decades.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Field Sparrow.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Western Field Sparrows tend to be larger, paler, and grayer than eastern birds.

Field Sparrow pairs often divide up a fledged brood for continued care, or the male may take the entire brood so the female can begin a new nest.

Vocalizations

The song consists of an accelerating series of whistles, becoming a trill near the end.  A sharp "chip" call is also given.

Nesting

The Field Sparrow’s nest is a cup of grasses and is lined with finer materials. It is placed on the ground or in a low shrub.

Number: Usually lay 3-5 eggs.
Color: White or pale bluish with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 10-11 days, and fledge at about 7-8 days, though remaining dependent on the adults for some time.