American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)

American Tree Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Spizella arborea | [UK] American Tree Sparrow | [FR] Pinson hudsonien | [DE] Baumammer | [ES] Chimbito Arboreo | [NL] Toendra-gors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Spizella arborea NA n Canada, Alaska USA
Spizella arborea arborea
Spizella arborea ochracea

Physical charateristics

To identify this bird of the North, the “Winter Chippy,” note the single dark spot or “stickpin” on the breast, and the red-brown cap.
Bill dark above, yellow below; two white wing bars.

Listen to the sound of American Tree Sparrow

[audio: Tree Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 21 cm wingspan max.: 24 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 8 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : North Canada, Alaska


Arctic scrub, willow thickets; in winter, brushy roadsides, weedy edges, marshes.
In summer most common near treeline, where northern forest gives way to tundra. May be in openings in stunted spruce forest, or on open tundra if a few taller shrubs are present. In winter in open fields, woodland edges, marshes, suburban areas.


Pairs form shortly after birds arrive on breeding grounds. Male actively defends territory, chasing away other members of same species.
Nest: Site is on or near ground, in grass clumps bene
ath shrubs. Sometimes on hummock in open tundra; rarely up to 4′ above ground in willow or spruce. Nest (built by female) is open cup of twigs, grasses, moss, lined with fine grass and feathers (usually ptarmigan feathers).
Eggs: 4-6, usually 5. Pale bluish or greenish, with brownish spotting often concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female, 11-13 days.
Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest at age 8-10 days, when flight feathers not yet fully grown. Parents may lure them away from nest by offering food. Young are able to fly at about 14-
15 days after hatching; parents continue to feed them for about 2 more weeks. 1 brood per season.

Feeding habits

Seeds and insects. Diet in winter is almost entirely seeds of grasses, weeds,
and other plants; also a few insects and berries. In summer eats mostly insects and other small invertebrates, plus a few seeds. Young are fed mostly insects.
Behavior: Forages on ground or in low bushes, sometimes in trees up to 30′ or more above ground. Except when nesting, usually forages in small flocks.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
American Tree Sparrow status Least Concern


Alaska, northern Canada. Winters southern Canada to central United States. Migration:
All wintering areas are well to the south of breeding areas. Migrates relatively late in fall and early in spring. Apparently migrates mainly at night. On average, females winter somewhat farther south than males.

Distribution map

American Tree Sparrow distribution range map

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