Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Lark Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Chondestes grammacus | [UK] Lark Sparrow | [FR] Pinson a joues marron | [DE] Rainammer | [ES] Chingolo arlequin | [NL] Roodoorgors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Amphispiza grammacus
Chondestes grammacus NA w, n se USA to Guatemala
Chondestes grammacus grammacus
Chondestes grammacus strigatus

Physical charateristics

Note the black tail with much white in the corners (as in Rufous-sided Towhee, not as in Vesper Sparrow); also the single dark central breast spot and quaillike head pattern,
with the chestnut ear patch and striped crown. Young birds are duller; finely streaked on the sides of the breast.

Listen to the sound of Lark Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 27 cm wingspan max.: 29 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 10 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : West, North


Open country with bushes, trees; pastures, farms, roadsides.
For nesting, generally favors areas with some open bare ground and some taller plants; included are overgrazed pastures, sandy barrens, hedgerows near fallow fields, brushy dry grasslands, sometimes open pinyon-juniper woods. In migration and winter, fou
nd in similar areas, also open weedy fields.


In courtship, male may strut about on the ground near the female, with his bill pointed up and his tail spread wide to show off the white corners.
Nest: Both sexes may take part in choosing
nest site, with male placing twigs at potential site, but female does actual building. Site varies; often on ground near base of tall weed, but may be up in shrubs or low trees, up to 7′ above the ground, sometimes higher. Sometimes may nest in crevices
in rocky cliffs. Nest is an open cup of grass, weeds, twigs, lined with fine grass, rootlets, animal hair.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-6. Creamy to grayish white, spotted with brown and black. Incubation is by female, 11-12 days.
Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-10 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds and insects. Feeds heavily on seeds, especially in winter, including those of grasses and weeds as w
ell as waste grain. Also eats many insects, especially in summer, including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and many others. Young are fed mostly insects, also some grass seeds.
Behavior: Does almost all its foraging while walking about on the ground in open areas. Typically forages in small, loose 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.
Lark Sparrow status Least Concern


Southern Canada south (west of Appalachians) to northern Mexico. Winters southern United States to El Salvador. Migration:
Migrates relatively late in spring and early in fall. Small numbers appear on the Atlantic seaboard in fall, mostly along the immediate coast.

Distribution map

Lark Sparrow distribution range map

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