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Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus


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Vesper Sparrow
credit: Tim from Ithaca/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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

Description ADULT Has brown, streaked back; mostly dark tail has white outer feathers (striking in flight). Wing feathers have mostly dark centers and pale margins, but note chestnut lesser coverts (often hidden by body feathers) and two subtle pale wing bars. Dark-streaked crown has pale central stripe. Has a white eyering, dark line behind eye, and dark margins to ear coverts. Whitish throat is bordered by dark stripe and pale underparts are streaked on breast and flanks. JUVENILE Similar, but warmer buff overall.

Dimensions Length: 5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm)

Habitat Rather scarce summer visitor (mainly Apr-Sep) to arid grassland and sagebrush; declining due to changes in farming. Winters in southern U.S. and Mexico.

Observation Tips Sometimes feeds beside roads.

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

Voice Song (sometimes sung at dusk) comprises two or three drawn-out whistles, followed by a chattering trill; call is a sharp tchip.

Discussion Not unduly shy and often feeds on ground in the open. Uses poles and isolated trees as song posts. Sometimes mixes in small flocks with other sparrow species. Sexes are similar.