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Black-chinned Sparrow

These small, grayish-brown sparrows with black chins and throats are often found in arid and semi-arid habitats.

The Black-chinned Sparrow inhabits arid, brushy, mountain slopes of the southwestern U.S. It is most common around the outer Los Angeles area. California’s Black-chinned Sparrows are migratory, though winter movements of Black-chinned Sparrows downslope into desert grasslands are typical of populations in Arizona and New Mexico.

Sagebrush is a typical plant in which Black-chinned Sparrows build their nest. After nesting, when the young have fledged, the young often gather together into small flocks.


Description of the Black-chinned Sparrow


The Black-chinned Sparrow has a plain gray head and underparts, a brown, streaked back, and a pink bill. Males have a small black face and throat patch.  Length: 6 in.  Wingspan: 8 in.

Black-chinned Sparrow


Females have a gray face and throat.

Seasonal change in appearance

Males lose the black face and throat in the fall.


Juveniles have streaked underparts.


Black-chinned Sparrows inhabit arid slopes and sagebrush.


Black-chinned Sparrows eat insects and seeds.

Black-chinned Sparrow

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Black-chinned Sparrows forage on the ground, generally rather slowly.


Black-chinned Sparrows breed throughout parts of the western and southwestern U.S. They winter in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. The population appears to be stable.

Fun Facts

Black-chinned Sparrows gather in small flocks in the fall and winter.

There are two U.S. subspecies of Black-chinned Sparrows, with central California birds being slightly darker.


The song consists of a series of slurred notes. A soft “siss’ call is also given.


Similar Species

Black-throated Sparrow
The Black-throated Sparrow has a strong light and dark facial pattern, more extensive black on throat.



The Black-chinned Sparrow’s nest is a cup of weeds, grass, and fibers and is lined with finer materials. It is placed low in a sagebrush or shrub.

Number: Usually lay 2-4 eggs.

color: Pale bluish in color, sometimes with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 13 days, though the age at which they fledge is not well known.


Bent Life History of the Black-chinned Sparrow

Bent Life History information will be added soon.

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

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