This songbird adds yet another voice to the chorus. The Song Sparrow derived its name from its repertoire of songs. The melody will normally begin with four clear notes, a two-eee and end with a trill. Song Sparrows will repeat this numerous times and then switch to another variation of the song. It has been said that the opening notes sound like the beginning of Beethoven’s Symphony #5. The clarity of their song makes it very recognizable and easy to identify.
Song Sparrows are medium in size, with a brown upper body and white underside. They are heavily streaked on their chest and sport a dark spot in the centre. The colour of the streaking will depend on their location and habitat. Song Sparrows in the north are darkly streaked, whereas those found in the south or desert areas have a paler plumage. They have a round head with a russet cap and grey feathers around their eyes. Their rounded tail pumps up and down as they flit through the branches.
Song Sparrows are found in a variety of habitats including brushlands, deserts, both marsh and salt marshes in the south, to fields and forest edges, roadsides and thickets in the north. They are one of the most commonly seen sparrows throughout North America. In the fall they will migrate from their northern regions to the southern US and Mexico.
In a preferable habitat you may have several nesting pairs as the male defends a small territory. The female will do the majority of the nest building. She will compose a cup-shaped nest made from bark strips, grass, weeds and leaves and line it with fine grass, small roots and animal hair. The nest is built in a variety of places depending on their habitat. Some will be built on ground level or less that 4 feet from the ground and others will nest up to 10 feet above the ground. Three to five pale greenish-white with reddish-brown spotting eggs will be laid and incubated by the female for 12-14 days.
Cowbirds will attempt to lay their eggs in Song Sparrows’ nests as the colouring of their eggs are similar, however a little larger. Song Sparrows will aggressively defend their nests from Cowbirds but this can make the Cowbirds more determined as they recognize this as a good parenting trait. Both parents will feed the nestlings who will fledge the nests 10-12 days after hatching. They will depend on their parents for another 3 weeks. Song Sparrows have been known to live as long as 11 years.
You can invite these attractive songbirds to your yard by using a ground feeder or hanging a platform feeder 3-4 feet from the ground. Although they sing from the tops of trees, they love to flit through low branches of shrubs, bushes and thickets. Sunflower Hearts and Finch and Friends are two of their preferred seeds. You will also see them foraging for insects on the garden floor.
We would welcome the opportunity to show you which feeders would attract Song Sparrows to your garden.
Author – Jane Paradis