Harris’s Sparrow

The Harris’s Sparrow is North America’s largest Sparrow, often catching the attention of birders and non-birders alike. They are considered to be some of the most beautiful Sparrows on the continent, with their black bibs and pink bills. They are the only songbirds that breed in Canada and nowhere else, with their winter migrations taking them towards the Great Plains. Due to their secretive demeanors and remote habitats, they were not discovered until 1931, decades after most North American birds were cataloged.

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White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) is a species of passerine bird native to North America. A medium-sized member of the New World Sparrow family, this species is marked by a grey face and black and white streaking on the upper head. The scientific name is from Ancient Greek. The genus name Zonotrichia is from the zone, “band”, and thrix, trikhos, “hair”, and the species name leucophrys is from leukos, “white”, and ophrus, “eyebrow”. The
name itself is extremely descriptive of the bird.

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Lark Sparrow

The Lark Sparrow is a comparatively large New World Sparrow that seems to have a receding population. In open-country habitats, these birds are the largest sparrows. Sparrows in general are quite difficult to identify but that is not the case with Lark Sparrows. These birds are extremely easy to identify, due to their distinctive broad, white-edged tails and boldface patterns.

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Cassin’s Sparrow

Known for their sweet trills and notes in their songs, the Cassin’s Sparrow is a secretive bird that practically disappears during some parts of the year. They are birds of arid shrub grasslands in the High Plains of North America, with significant populations also occurring in the south-western United States and northern Mexico. Breeding males sing a whistled melody while fluttering in mid-air, 20 feet high or more, above their territories. One naturalist wrote that the song had an “indescribable sweetness and pathos.”

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Seaside Sparrow

The Seaside Sparrow is a fascinating creature. They gravitate towards marshes and brackish areas and some ecologists even use their population density as a measure for ecological integrity for certain kinds of marshes. Their decision to choose certain habitats is highly sensitive to the changes in ecology, and the Dusky Seaside Sparrow is now extinct, likely due to habitat modifications in east-central Florida.

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Green-tailed Towhee

One of North America’s most memorable birds, the Green-tailed Towhee stands out from other Towhees on the account of their beautiful plumages. Despite being so iconic and abundant throughout their range, these birds are also one of North America’s least well-known birds. They are highly elusive and are very quick to depart from any situation that startles them. They hide among shrubby mountainsides and large sagebrush expanses, making use of the dense foliage to stay out of sight. Even if you happen to catch a glimpse of them, it will be for less than a second as they pop into view and whistle out a song.

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Grasshopper Sparrow

A very seriously endangered bird, the Grasshopper Sparrow is easy to overlook. Their insect-like songs are one of their most characteristic traits, possibly the source from which these birds inherited their names. 20th-century ornithologist Forbush described this species as “a queer, somber colored, big-headed, short-tailed, unobtrusive little bird [that] did not come by its name because of its fondness for grasshoppers, though it is never averse to making a meal of them, but because of its grasshopper-like attempt at the song, if it can be called a song.”

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Golden-crowned Sparrow

A trademark bird of the far West, the Golden-crowned Sparrow is known for their bright golden caps and their melancholic songs that seem to resonate with their scrubby and vast surroundings. These birds were first frequently observed by the gold rush miners that used to mine in those regions in large numbers. The workers often found comfort in their songs or blatant irritation as some rendered their songs as “no gold here” which is a statement that rang true after a couple of years.

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Clay-colored Sparrow

The Clay-colored Sparrow is rather plain, pale, and little. They are a typical summer bird of the northern prairies, where the males perch in the tops of low thickets to sing their flat, monotonous buzzes. Though they are not brightly colored, their pale tones and overall neat, crisp markings help set them apart from other Sparrows, especially useful on their wintering grounds, where they often flock with other species.

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Brewer’s Sparrow

The Brewer’s Sparrow have popularly been discarded as some of the drabbest looking Sparrows in North America, but their inconspicuous appearance does little justice to their dynamic personalities. These Sparrows are desert birds and are mostly found in sagebrush shrublands that are occasionally mixed with other shrubs and grasses. They are the most abundant bird found in these ecosystems and are also some of North America’s smallest Sparrows.

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Black-throated Sparrow

Found throughout the southwestern United States and Mexico in arid upland habitats, Black-throated Sparrow breeds as far north as Washington State. Although often quite common, these conspicuous birds are little known. They mainly feed on seeds throughout the year, especially in winter, but during the breeding season, they often glean on insects from the leaves and stems of shrubs. Some populations nesting at northern latitudes migrates long distances, while those breeding farther south migrate shorter distances.

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Black-chinned Sparrow

The Black-chinned Sparrow is a Sparrow locally found in the arid brushlands throughout the southwestern United States and south-central Mexico. The retiring habits and the elusive behaviors make this species one of the least-known songbirds of its regions. Very little is understood of their behaviors, food, enemies, and most aspects of their breeding habits. As a result, most of what we know is drawn from anecdotal accounts and collected specimens of early 20th century ornithologists.

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Bell’s Sparrow

Hiding amongst shrubs, or perched upon high branches, the Bell’s Sparrow is quite the fascinating creature, although a little shy. They are homely bodies, with 3 out of their 5 subspecies preferring to stay at their habitat all year round and skipping out on migration season. 

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Bachman’s Sparrow

Keeping to themselves, a silent bunch, Bachman’s Sparrow are extremely shy creatures. The slightest sound or hint of danger and they’re off. They dash across the yard to hide in shrubbery, far away from whatever or whoever disturbs their tranquil strolls. This introverted behavior causes this species to be quite overlooked by the general public, but contains more secrets to them than it appears! These birds were named by John James Audobon, a famous ornithologist, after his travel companion John Bachman.

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American Tree Sparrow

The American Tree Sparrow is possibly one of the most easily recognizable birds in the world. The name was given by early European settlers who observed the similarities in appearance of this species to Eurasian Tree Sparrows, a bird species that is equally common in Eurasia.

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White-throated Sparrow

The White-throated Sparrow is one of the most well-studied birds in the North American continent. These birds are also one of the most familiar songbirds in their range. For many people, the song of these birds is something that is synonymous with the northern wilderness. Except during breeding season, you can find these birds at feeding stations.

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Vesper Sparrow

The Vesper Sparrow is a ground dweller who are native to the North American continent. It is relatively easier to spot these birds as compared to other Sparrows due to their larger size and open nature. Vesper Sparrows are less shy and frequently sing from open, elevated perches or forage in open forest land.

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Saltmarsh Sparrow

The Saltmarsh Sparrow is a small buff-orange bird with leaden gray and rusty spots. These birds are found only in the tidal salt marshes on the east coast of North America. This is apparently their only home. Having a particular habitat does take a toll on Saltmarsh Sparrows. As a result, they are one of the endangered species of the kingdom Animalia.

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Savannah Sparrow

The Savannah Sparrow isn’t just a regular streaky brown bird! They are one of the most beautiful species of Sparrows. These understated but distinctive Sparrows are unique with their short tails, small heads, and a telltale yellow spot before their eyes and thus are very distinguishable.

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Sagebrush Sparrow

The Sagebrush Sparrow is an elegant bird found in the great open spaces of the intermountain west of the North American continent. These birds primarily nest in Sage shrubs and thus the name “sagebrush”. These ground foraging birds need intact sage tracts for successful breeding.

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