Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Song Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Melospiza melodia | [UK] Song Sparrow | [FR] Pinson chanteur | [DE] Singammer | [ES] | [NL] Zanggors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Melospiza melodia NA widespread, also to c Mexico
Melospiza melodia adusta
Melospiza melodia atlantica
Melospiza melodia caurina
Melospiza melodia cleonensis
Melospiza melodia fallax
Melospiza melodia goldmani
Melospiza melodia gouldii
Melospiza melodia graminea
Melospiza melodia heermanni
Melospiza melodia insignis
Melospiza melodia kenaiensis
Melospiza melodia maxillaris
Melospiza melodia maxima
Melospiza melodia melodia
Melospiza melodia merrilli
Melospiza melodia mexicana
Melospiza melodia montana
Melospiza melodia morphna
Melospiza melodia pusillula
Melospiza melodia rivularis
Melospiza melodia rufina
Melospiza melodia samuelis
Melospiza melodia sanaka
Melospiza melodia villai

Physical charateristics

The face has dark streaks through each eye and on either side of the crown, with gray between the dark streaks. Both upperparts and underparts are also streaked. The streaks on the breast often converge into a central breast spot, but many other streak-breasted sparrows can also have a central spot like this, and thus this field mark is not diagnostic. The tail is long and often held cocked up, and is pumped up and down in flight.

Listen to the sound of Song Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 22 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : widespread, also to Central Mexico


Breeds widely in temperate and adjoining climatic zones of Nearctic, mainly in lowland or upland, but locally to 1500 m or higher. A typical edge species, inhabiting thickets of shrubs and trees among grassland, brushy margins or openings of forest, brushy edges of ponds or lakes, shrub swamps, shelterbelts, farmsteads, and sometimes parks or suburbs.


Song Sparrow nesting territories are often small, so nests may be close together resulting in high densities. Nest sites are highly variable, usually on the ground under a clump of grass, or in a shrub within four feet of the ground. In marshy areas, nests are often over water. The nest, built by the female, is an open cup of weeds, grass, leaves, and bark, lined with fine grass, rootlets, and hair. Nest materials vary greatly depending on materials available. The female incubates the 3 to 5 eggs for 12 to 14 days. Both parents feed the young, which leave the nest at 10 to 12 days. Young birds stay near their parents for another three weeks until they learn to fly well and find their own food.

Feeding habits

Typical of the family, Song Sparrows eat insects and seeds, with a greater proportion of seeds in the fall and winter, and a greater proportion of insects in the spring and summer.


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.
Song Sparrow status Least Concern


Migratory status varies. In general, populations of northern coasts and of mid-latitudes inland are partly migratory, with some resident races in Aleutian Islands (Alaska); southern populations, especially in south-west states and Mexico, are sedentary. Winters from southern Alaska (Aleutian Islands) and coastal and southern British Columbia east through northern USA to south-east Canada, south throughout rest of breeding range and southern Texas, Gulf of Mexico coast, and southern Florida. No reports of vagrancy north to Arctic North America.

Distribution map

Song Sparrow distribution range map

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