Golden-crowned Sparrow

Bird of the Month: Golden-crowned Sparrow

By Hugh Jennings

PC: Mick Thompson (Golden-crowned Sparrow)

PC: Mick Thompson (Golden-crowned Sparrow)

Scientific Name: Zonotrichia atricapilla

Length 7 in

AOU Band code GCSP

The Golden-crowned Sparrow, four letter code GCSP, is relative common in our area from October through March and is found in dense woodlands, tangles and brush. Its summer breeding range is the west coast from British Columbia north to Alaska in mountain thickets and shrubs.

It is similar to the White-crowned Sparrow (WCSP) , about 7" long, but without white head stripes. Instead it has a dull yellow central crown stripe, usually bordered broadly with black. Back is brownish, streaked with dark brown: breast, sides and flanks are grayish-brown. Bill is dusky above and pale below compared to the WCSP’s bill which is pink, orange or yellowish. The immature’s yellow crown is less distinct on a brown crown. Winter adults are duller overall and the amount of black on the crown varies.

Song is a series of three or more plaintive, whistled notes, descending down the scale. The song sounds like "oh-dear-me" or "gol-den crown".

It feeds on or near the ground, eating seeds, buds leaves, flowers, insects and fruit. Comes to feeders where seed is scattered on ground or on trays. They are often seen with WCSPs in winter flocks. Male sings almost continuously during early breeding.