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White-Crowned Sparrow     white-crowned sparrow


Identification and Pictures

(Zonotrichia leucophrys)white-crowned sparrow

White-crowned sparrows are about 5 1/2 to 7 inches.  A white stripe from the bill to the back of the head, and another over the eye identifies this attractive bird.  Their bill is either pink or yellow and often has a dusky tip.  They have a long tail, and 2 white bars on the wings.  The crown has a puffy look to it.  Their breast is gray.  In younger birds the head stripe is more of a brown color.  Both sexes are similar.

There are 5 subspecies, with variations from one area to anothe, and telling them apart can be difficult.

Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

Range and Habitat

white-crowned sparrowWhite Crowned Sparrows range through Alaska, Canada, and western U.S.  Northern populations may migrate for the winter to southern U.S. and Mexico.  They can be found in towns, the country, and along roadsides.  Their preferred habitat is low brush, thickets, and forest edges.  Outside of breeding season they may be seen in flocks with other birds.  

Breeding and Nesting

Male White-crowned sparrows usually arrive in the breeding area before females, and sing to protect their territory, and attract a mate.  The birds are usually monogamous.  The female builds a cup nest of grass, pine needles, twigs, and bark strips, lined with fine grass, hair, and feathers, on or near the ground.  She will incubate 3 to 5 bluish green, pale, spotted eggs for 11 to 14 days.  Both parents feed the young birds which will leave the nest in around 10 days.  They will be able to fly and find their own food in 7 to 10 days after leaving the nest.

Song and Call

Their song is a clear whistles followed by husky trills.  A call often heard is a loud pink-pink-pink.
Listen to White Crowned Sparrow

Food and Feeding

Natural foods for Song sparrows are insects, seeds, and berries, which they forage for in shrubs, and on the ground, by scratching with both feet to uncover food.  They will visit seed feeders, but prefer to eat seeds dropped on the ground by other birds.

For more on food and feeding click here.
For more on feeders click here.

To learn about other favorite birds click here.

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