Fringilla melodia Wilson, 1810, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thirty-eight subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Bruant chanteur; German: Singammer; Spanish: Gorriуn Cantor.
5–7 in (12–17 cm); 0.67–1.5 oz (19–42 g). Song sparrows are medium to large sized sparrows with a long, round tail. The head is brown to light rusty with paler median crown stripe, grayish stripe above the eye, conspicuous brown malar stripes, a brown mottled back, and heavily streaked breast with a dark central breast spot. Sexes are alike. Juveniles have brown crowns, are heavily streaked below, and are generally more buff in color than adults. This species is highly variable geographically.
Breed from the Aleutian Islands, along the southern coast of Alaska, east across southern Nunavut, northern Ontario, and central Quebec to southwest Newfoundland, and south to Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Locally resident in Baja California and central Mexico. Resident in Alaska and along the Pacific coast, but most northern- breeding birds migrate in winter to southern Florida, the Gulf Coast, northern Mexico, and southern Baja California.
Generally found in open brushy habitats, often near ponds, streams, or marshes. In winter, they are found in brush and woodland edge.
Generally stay low in vegetation, but they often perch conspicuously in a tree, bush, or on top of a weed when singing. In flight they appear to pump the tail, and they hop or run on the ground. They defend territories with chases and fights. In winter, they can be found in loose flocks that often contain other species of sparrows.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
In summer, they eat primarily insects and other invertebrates, but in winter they eat mostly seeds. Song sparrows feed on the ground or by picking food from vegetation.
Socially monogamous. The nest is a bulky cup of leaves, strips of bark, grass, and other plants, commonly placed on the ground among grasses, low in a bush, or rarely in a cavity. They usually lay three to six eggs. Nesting takes place from late February (in the southern parts of their range) into August. Incubation takes 10–14 days, and young fledge in 7–14 days. Both parents feed the young.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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