Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)

Swamp Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Melospiza georgiana | [UK] Swamp Sparrow | [FR] Pinson des marais | [DE] Sumpfammer | [ES] Gorrion pantanero | [NL] Moerasgors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Zonotrichia georgiana
Melospiza georgiana NA nc, ne to ne Mexico
Melospiza georgiana ericrypta
Melospiza georgiana georgiana

Physical charateristics

A rather stout, dark, rusty-winged sparrow with a dull gray breast, outlined white throat, rusty cap. No prominent wing bars. Winter birds and immatures
are dimly streaked and have little rusty on the striped crown. They are sometimes misidentified as Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Listen to the sound of Swamp Sparrow

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/S/Swamp Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 19 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : nc, Northeast


Fresh marshes with tussocks, bushes, or cattails; sedgy swamps. Breeds mostly in freshwater marshes with sedges, grass, or cattails, often with thickets of alder or willow; sometimes in swampy thickets around
ponds and rivers. Also breeds locally in salt marshes on middle Atlantic Coast. During migration and winter found mainly in marshes but also in streamside thickets, rank weedy fields.


To defend nesting territory, male sings from a raised perch, such as the top of a cattail or a shrub in the marsh. May sing by day or night.
Nest: Placed in marsh vegetation such as cattails, sedge tussocks, or bushes, often directly above water, up to 5′ high; perhaps sometimes on the groun
d. Nest (probably built by female only) often has bulky foundation of coarse grass and other marsh plants, with inner cup of fine grass. Dead cattails or other leaves often arch over the nest, so that the birds must enter from the side.
Eggs: 4-5, sometimes 3-6. Pale green to greenish white, heavily marked with reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, probably about 12-13 days. Male may feed female during incubation.
Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-13 days after hatching. Often 2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds.
Feeds heavily on insects, perhaps more so than related sparrows, especially in summer. Diet includes many beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and many others, as well as other arthropods. Also eats many seeds, especially in fall and wint
er, including those of grasses, weeds, and sedges.
Behavior: Forages mostly on the ground, especially on wet mud near the water’s edge, and sometimes feeds while wading in very shallow water. Also does some foraging up in marsh vegetation.


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.
Swamp Sparrow status Least Concern


Canada (east of Rockies), northeastern United States. Winters southern United States, northern Mexico. Migration:
Most of those breeding in western Canada probably move eastward in fall to winter in the Southeast; however, small numbers occur widely in the West in winter.

Distribution map

Swamp Sparrow distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *