Quick Facts

Species Type



Length of 4-7 in, weight of 0.5-2 oz and wingspan: 7-9.5 in.


Song sparrows are generalists that tend to live in woodlands, marshes, urban and suburban environments.


Song sparrows are common across most of North America. There is a breeding population in Canada and the northern United States in the summer that migrates to the southern United States and Mexico in the winter. Song sparrows can be found year-round from Alaska to southern California on the west coast and from Maine to Georgia on the east coast.


Feeds mainly on insects in the summer and seeds in the winter but also eats crustaceans and mollusks in coastal areas.


11 years

Conservation Status



The appearance of the song sparrow can vary greatly in different locations. In the Chesapeake region, the song sparrow is a mix of reddish-brown, gray and white. The white chest is covered in reddish-brown streaks. It has a brown cap and a brown stripe that extends from the eye to the neck. It has a short bill with a long, rounded tail and broad wings.


Song sparrows forage on the ground and will scratch the soil to find food.


Predators of song sparrows include raptors, snakes, raccoons, skunks and cats.


Song sparrows will fly quickly between areas of cover. They move their tail in a pumping motion while flying.


Song sparrows call two to three short notes followed by a trill.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Song sparrow breed in the spring. They build their nests on the ground or in shrubs. Nests are rarely more than four feet above the ground. Females will incubate the eggs and both the male and female will care for the young when they hatch. Young leave the nest within two weeks of hatching and will remain with their parents for another three weeks. Song sparrows can raise multiple broods each year.

Did You Know?

  • Song sparrows are one of the most regionally variable birds in North America with 24 identified subspecies. Birds in northern territories tend to be darker than southern birds and birds in Alaska can weigh twice as much as other song sparrows.
  • Male songbirds use their song to attract mates and to defend their territory. Each male will have several unique songs and will sing multiple songs in a varied sequence.
  • Female song sparrows are more attracted to mates that sing more complex songs.

Sources and Additional Information