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Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis


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Savannah Sparrow
credit: Cephas/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family

Description ADULT From most of range covered by this book is brown overall, with bold dark streaking on back. Inner flight feathers and greater coverts look reddish brown in most birds; note also two subtle pale wing bars. Tail is brownish. Darkish crown has indistinct pale central stripe; note dark line behind eye and yellowish supercilium. Pale "mustache" and throat are separated by dark malar stripe. Underparts are pale, but with reddish streaks on breast and flanks. "Ipswich Sparrow" ssp. princeps is much paler overall, with sandy buff upperparts. JUVENILE Similar to respective subspecies adult.

Dimensions Length: 4 1/2-6" (11-15 cm)

Habitat Summer visitor (mainly Apr-Sep) to open grassy habitats. Most birds winter from southern U.S. south. "Ipswich Sparrow" breeds on Sable Island, Nova Scotia and winters on Atlantic coast, favoring dunes.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range California, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Southeast, Texas, New England, Western Canada, Southwest, Alaska, Florida, Plains, Great Lakes, Northwest

Voice Song is a two-part, buzzing trill (bzzzrt-tzeee), preceded by two or three chip notes; call is a thin stip.

Discussion Well-marked sparrow. Unobtrusive, but sometimes perches in bush if flushed and then easy to see, albeit briefly. Shows geographical variation in size, color, and bill size. Given this variation, sexes are similar.