White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

name = White-crowned Sparrow
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
status_ref = [IUCN2006|assessors=BirdLife International|year=2004|id=53552|title=Zonotrichia leucophrys|downloaded=12 May 2006 Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern]

image_width = 250px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Passeriformes
familia = Emberizidae
genus = "Zonotrichia"
species = "Z. leucophrys"
binomial = "Zonotrichia leucophrys"
binomial_authority = (Forster, 1772)
The White-crowned Sparrow ("Zonotrichia leucophrys") is a medium-sized sparrow native to North America.


Adults are convert|18|cm|in|0|abbr=on|lk=on long and have black and white stripes on their head, a grey face, brown streaked upper parts and a long tail. The wings are brown with bars and the underparts are grey. Their bill is pink or yellow. They are similar in appearance to the White-throated Sparrow but do not have the white throat markings.


Their breeding habitat is brushy areas across northern Canada and the western United States. They nest either low in bushes or on the ground under shrubs and lay 3-5 brown-marked grey or greenish-blue eggs.


There are five currently recognized subspecies of white-crowned sparrow ("pugetensis", "gambelii", "nuttalli", "oriantha", and "leucophrys"), varying in migratory behaviour and breeding habitat. The Nuttall's subspecies are permanent residents in California, while the Gambel's subspecies may migrate as far as the Arctic Circle during the summer breeding season. Northern birds migrate to the southern United States.


White-crowned Sparrow is a very rare vagrant to western Europe. One was present in County Cork, Ireland in May 2003. [Hussey, Harry (2003) The White-crowned Sparrow in County Cork. "Birding World" 16(5): 203-5] Another was found in Norfolk, England in January 2008. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/7179001.stm|title=Rare bird found in coastal garden|accessdate=2008-01-09|date=2008-01-09|publisher=BBC News Website]


These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, but sometimes make short flights to catch flying insects. They mainly eat seeds, other plant parts and insects. In winter, they often forage in flocks.

The song of the White-crowned Sparrow has been much studied because of its many dialects, but the "pugetensis" subspecies sounds similar to "You can't come and catch me!" Fact|date=January 2008



* Byers, Olsson and Curson, "Buntings and Sparrows" ISBN 1-873403-19-4

External links

* [http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/White-crowned_Sparrow.html White-crowned Sparrow Species Account] - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
* [http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i5540id.html White-crowned Sparrow - Zonotrichia leucophrys] - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
* [http://www.sdakotabirds.com/species/white_crowned_sparrow_info.htm White-crowned Sparrow Information and Photos] - South Dakota Birds and Birding
* [http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/especie.phtml?idEspecie=9612 White-crowned Sparrow videos] on the Internet Bird Collection
* [http://vireo.acnatsci.org/search.html?Form=Search&SEARCHBY=Common&KEYWORDS=white-crowned+sparrow&showwhat=images&AGE=All&SEX=All&ACT=All&Search=Search&VIEW=All&ORIENTATION=All&RESULTS=24 White-crowned Sparrow photo gallery] VIREO

Further reading


* Chilton, G., M. C. Baker, C. D. Barrentine, and M. A. Cunningham. 1995. "White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)". In "The Birds of North America", No. 183 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

* Kroodsma DE, Baker MC, Baptista LF & Petrinovich L. (1985). "Vocal "dialects" in Nuttall's white-crowned sparrow". In "Johnston, R F [Editor] Current Ornithology 103-133, 1985". Plenum Press, 233 Spring Street, New York, New York.

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