The Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) is a species of American Sparrow, a passerine bird in the family Emberizidae. It is widespread, fairly tame, and common across most of its North American range. There are two subspecies, the eastern chipping sparrow, and the western chipping sparrow. This bird is a partial migrant with northerly populations flying southwards in the fall to overwinter in Mexico and the southern United States, and flying northward again in spring. It molts twice a year. In its breeding plumage, it has orangish-rust upper parts, gray head and underparts and a distinctive reddish cap. In non-breeding plumage, the cap is brown, and the facial markings are less distinct. The song is a trill, and the bird has a piercing flight call that can be heard while it is migrating at night.
In the winter, chipping sparrows are gregarious and form flocks, sometimes associating with other bird species. They mostly forage on the ground for seeds and other food items, as well as clambering on plants and trees, feeding on buds and small arthropods. In the west of their range they breed mainly in coniferous forests, but in the east, they choose woodland, farmland, parks and gardens. Breeding starts in late April and May, and the nest is often built in a tree. [Wikipedia]
A crisp, pretty sparrow whose bright rufous cap both provides a splash of color and makes adults fairly easy to identify. Chipping Sparrows are common across North America wherever trees are interspersed with grassy openings. Their loud, trilling songs are one of the most common sounds of spring woodlands and suburbs. [All About Birds]
Chipping Sparrow Facts [All About Birds]
- The early naturalists had a gift for description you just don’t see anymore. In 1929, Edward Forbush called the Chipping Sparrow “the little brown-capped pensioner of the dooryard and lawn, that comes about farmhouse doors to glean crumbs shaken from the tablecloth by thrifty housewives.”
- Chipping Sparrows typically build their nests low in a shrub or tree, but every once in a while they get creative. People have found their nests among hanging strands of chili peppers, on an old-fashioned mower inside a tool shed, and on a hanging basket filled with moss.
- The nest of the Chipping Sparrow is of such flimsy construction that light can be seen through it. It probably provides little insulation for the eggs and young.
- The oldest recorded Chipping Sparrow was at least 10 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Ontario in 1998. It had been banded in the same province in 1987.