Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) is a medium-sized sparrow with brown upperparts, dark streaks on the back and white underparts. They also have dark streaking and a dark brown spot in the middle of the breast. They have a brown cap and a long brown tail. Their face is grey with a streak through the eye. There are regional variations in this bird’s appearance across its range.

They breed in brushy areas and marshes, including salt marshes, across most of Canada and the United States and nest either in a sheltered location on the ground or in trees or shrubs.

In southern locations they are permanent residents. Northern birds, however, migrate to the southern United States or northern Mexico. A few have even been recorded in Great Britain and Norway.

These birds forage on the ground, in shrubs or in very shallow water. They mainly eat insects and seeds. Birds in salt marshes may also eat crustaceans.

This bird uses its melodious and fairly complex song to declare ownership of its territory and to attract females. It is fairly common throughout its range.

Two Song Sparrow subspecies have become extinct. The Amak Song Sparrow (race amaka) was last observed in 1980 on Amak Island, Alaska and disappeared after devegetation. The Santa Barbara Song Sparrow (race graminea) was last observed on Santa Barbara Island in 1967.