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Clay-colored Sparrow

The Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) is a small sparrow found in shrubby open areas and Jack Pine woods across central Canada and central northern United States east to the Great Lakes. They build their nests on the ground or low in a shrub.

Adults have light brown upperparts, pale underparts, and darker streaks on the back. The crown is dark brown with a pale stripe and the eyes sport a white line over each and a darker line within. The cheek patch is light brown. The wings are brown with bars. The short bill is pale with a dark tip and the back of the neck is grey; they have a long tail. Non-breeding adults and juveniles resemble Chipping Sparrows and Brewer’s Sparrows; they often form flocks with these birds outside of the nesting season.

Their breeding habitat is shrubby open areas and Jack Pine woods across central Canada and central northern United States east to the Great Lakes. The nest is an open cup on the ground or low in a shrub.

These birds migrate in flocks to southern Texas and Mexico.

They forage on the ground for seeds and insects. Outside of the nesting season, they often feed in small flocks. While nesting, these birds may feed far from the nest; feeding areas are not defended.

The male sings from an open perch to indicate his ownership of the nesting territory. The song is two to four insect-like buzzes on a single pitch. The call is a high tsip.

This bird’s nests are often parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird; the nest may be abandoned when this happens.

Clay-colored Sparrow


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