Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)

Chipping Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Spizella passerina | [UK] Chipping Sparrow | [FR] Pinson familier | [DE] Schwirrammer | [ES] Chimbito comun | [NL] Musgors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Spizella passerina NA, MA widespread
Spizella passerina arizonae
Spizella passerina atremaeus
Spizella passerina mexicana
Spizella passerina passerina
Spizella passerina pinetorum

Physical charateristics

Breeding: A small, gray-breasted sparrow with a bright rufous cap, a black line through the eye, and a white line over it. In Winter: Browner, not so gray-breasted; cap and eyebrow line duller. Immature: Browner; light crown stripe, gray rump.

Listen to the sound of Chipping Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 21 cm wingspan max.: 22 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America, Middle America : widespread


Open woods, conifers, orchards, farms, towns.
Original breeding habitat probably was mainly open pine woods, coniferous forest edges, savanna with scattered conifers. Still breeds in such areas but now also very common in suburbs, city parks, orchards, pastures, other altered habitats. Winters in op
en woods, thickets, farmland, brush.


Male sings in spring to defend nesting territory. A few males have more than one mate.
Nest: Site varies. Usually in
a conifer, but can be in a deciduous tree or sometimes on the ground; usually lower than 15′ above ground, but can be up to 60′ or even higher. Nest (built by female) is a compact open cup made of grass, weeds, rootlets, lined with fine grass and animal
hair. In pre-automobile days, the Chipping Sparrow was well known for using horsehair in its nest lining.
Eggs: 3-4, rarely 2-5. Pale blue-green, with markings of brown, purple, and black mostly at larger end. Incubation is by female, about 11-14 days; male may feed female during incubation.
Young: Both parents bring food for the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 8-12 days after hatching. 2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds. Diet varies with season. In summer, feeds mostly on insects, including gra
sshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers, true bugs, and many others, plus some spiders. Also eats many seeds, especially in fall and winter, including those of grasses, weeds, some waste grain.
Behavior: Forages mostly on the ground, but also up in shrubs and low trees. Occasionally makes short flights to catch insects in midair. Except when nesting, usually forages in 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). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not 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.
Chipping Sparrow status Least Concern


Canada to Nicaragua. Winters southern United States to Nicaragua. Migration: Often migrates in flocks. Migration is spread over a long period in both spring and fall.

Distribution map

Chipping Sparrow distribution range map

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