Lincolns Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)

Lincolns Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Melospiza lincolnii | [UK] Lincolns Sparrow | [FR] Pinson de lincoln | [DE] Lincolnammer | [ES] Chingolo de Lincoln | [NL] Lincolns Gors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Melospiza lincolnii NA w, n MA
Melospiza lincolnii alticola
Melospiza lincolnii gracilis
Melospiza lincolnii lincolnii

Physical charateristics

A skulker, “afraid of its shadow.” Similar to a Song Sparrow, but trimmer, side of face grayer, breast streaks much finer and often not aggregated into a central spot. Note the band of creamy buff
across the breast and the narrow eye-ring.

Listen to the sound of Lincolns Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 11 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : West, North


Willow and alder thickets, muskeg, brushy bogs. In winter, thickets, weeds, bushes.
Breeds in northern and mountainous areas in dense low vegetation near water, such as streamside willow groves, bushy edges of bogs, brushy clearings in wet coniferous forest. Winters in dense thickets, overgrown fields.


Male defends nesting territory by singing. In some areas, may compete with Song Sparrows for territories, but Song Sparrows usually dominate.
Site is on the ground, very well hidden under clump of grass or under dense shrubbery, often sunken in a depression in sphagnum moss or other ground cover. Nest (built by female only) is a shallow open cup of grasses or sedges, lined with fine grass and
sometimes with animal hair.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-6. Pale green to greenish white, heavily spotted with reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, about 12-14 days. Female may remain on nest until approached very closely,
then scurry away over the ground like a rodent.
Young: Both parents bring food for the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 9-12 days after hatching, may be tended by the parents for another 2-3 weeks or more.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds. Feeds on many insects, especially in summer, including caterpillars, beetles, moths, ants, flies, and many others, al
so spiders and millipedes. Seeds probably make up majority of diet, especially in winter; included are seeds of weeds and grasses. Young are probably fed entirely on insects
Behavior: Forages mostly while hopping on the ground, typically under or close to dense thickets. Even outside the breeding season, typically forages alone, or only loosely associated with other seed-eating birds.


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 stable, 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.
Lincolns Sparrow status Least Concern


Alaska, Canada, western and northeastern United States. Winters southern United States to Panama. Migration:
Season of migration is spread over a long period in both spring and fall, with some birds migrating both early and late, especially in the West.

Distribution map

Lincolns Sparrow distribution range map

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