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Henslow's Sparrow Ammodramus henslowii


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Henslow's Sparrow, adult perched
credit: Dominic Sherony/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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

Description ADULT Has rich brown upperparts overall, but pale edges to back feathers align to create lengthways lines. Tertials and wing coverts have rufous edges, creating panels of color. Crown is brown with dark marginal line, and buffy face is dark on ear coverts with dark malar and mustachial stripes. Underparts are pale, washed buff and dark-streaked on breast and flanks.

Dimensions Length: 5" (13 cm)

Habitat Song is a sharp t'silik, easy to overlook amid rustling grass, and because species is most vocal at dawn and dusk; call is a thin tsic.

Observation Tips Scarce and local summer visitor to weedy grassland, present within breeding range mainly May-Sep; winters in southeastern U.S., favoring similar grassy areas with matted vegetation.

Range Texas, New England, Florida, Great Lakes, Southeast, Eastern Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Plains

Voice JUVENILE Similar, but paler overall, with less intense streaking.

Similar Species Count yourself lucky if you see this species. Learn and listen for its song to improve your chances.

Discussion Scarce and secretive grassland sparrow with a relatively large head. Always a real challenge to find: typically creeps away from observer through matted grasses and is extremely hard to flush. Feeds mainly on insects. Sexes are similar.