White-crowned Sparrow

Bird of the Month: White-crowned Sparrow

By Hugh Jennings

PC: Mick Thompson (White-crowned Sparrow)

PC: Mick Thompson (White-crowned Sparrow)

Scientific Name: Zonotrichia Leucophry

Length 6.5-7 in

AOU Band code WCSP

The White-crowned Sparrow (WCSP) is about 6 ½ - 7” long.  It has a boldly streaked black-and-white head; pink, orange or yellowish bill; whitish throat and clear gray breast.  The immature bird’s head is brown and buff and can be confused with immature Golden-crowned Sparrow; however, the immature WCSP has a pale eyebrow which the immature GCSP does not.  It is common in open woodlands, brushy grasslands, roadsides and parks.  It can be found throughout the western and southern U.S. winter.  It breeds in northern and western Canada to Alaska and in Rocky Mountains in the U.S.  It can be found year around in the western U.S. but larger numbers are seen in the winter.  The WCSP feeds on the ground, scratching back leaf debris with both feet while looking for seeds insects.  It will come to feeders with seed spread on the ground.  The nest is bulky and made of grasses, twigs, plant stems and is lined with fine grass, hair and feathers.  The female lays 3-5 pale blue or green eggs with darker spots.  Incubation period is 11-15 days and the young fledge in 10 days.  The WCSP may have from 1-4 broods in a year.  The call note is a sharp “pink”.  The song varies geographically with many local dialects.  The song in our area is commonly likened to “see me pretty pretty me-ee”.