American Tree Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow is a winter resident in a large area of
central North America and is seen in winter flocks and at many
backyard feeders. Its rufous cap and gray breast with a
central black spot are diagnostic. Its breeding range is
Alaska, northern B.C., northern Yukon, Northwest Territories,
northern Saskatchewan, northern Manitoba, northern Ontario, north
and central Quebec and Labrador.
Medium size sparrow. Length: 13-15cm. Wing: 60-82mm.
Weight: 12.6-27.7 grams.
Rusty cap, often with a grayish median crown stripe and gray
supercilium; eyeline rusty; lores gray; malar stripe thin. The back
is rusty brown with dark streaks. Its rump and wings are brown
with rusty brown coverts and two distinct wing-bars. The chin,
throat and upper breast are gray with a distinct black spot in the
central breast. The lower flanks and lower belly fade into
warm rusty beige. The upper mandible is dark while the lower
mandible is yellow with a dusky tip. Its legs are brown.
Males are slightly larger and sexes are similar in colouration.
Similar to adults but with a streaked brown cap, nape and side of
neck. Underparts, except for the lower belly are heavily streaked
with blackish brown, often with a distinct breast spot.
The Chipping Sparrow is slimmer and smaller, with a black beak,
white supercilium and no breast spot. The Rufous-crowned
Sparrow is browner, with a black malar stripe. Field Sparrows
have pink bills and no breast spot. First year White-crowned
Sparrows superficially resemble Tree Sparrows but are larger.
In summer males sing persistently to proclaim possession of
territory. In the winter they are generally found in loose flocks or
small groups and seen at feeders. When flushed from the ground
they commonly fly up into a small nearby tree where they can be
easily observed. Taking seeds, berries and insects for food
they are usually seen foraging among weeds and grasses and along
branches and twigs.
Breeds usually near treeline in open scrubby areas in willow, birch
and alder thickets, stunted spruce, open tundra with scattered
shrubs, often near lakes and bogs. During migration and winter
they can be seen in fields, marshes hedgerows, gardens and open
forests, residential neighbourhoods and feeders.
name American Tree Sparrow is somewhat of a misnomer as most
individuals breed in remote northern areas, often north of the
treeline. The name was given to this bird by early European settlers
for the superficial resemblance it had with the Eurasian Tree
Sparrow (Passer montanus). The nest, built by the female, is a
neatly woven cup of dead sedges or grasses, weed stems, rootlets
lined with finer grasses, feathers or hairs. Three to six
white to pale greenish eggs heavily spotted with reddish brown are
Listed as Least Concern.
American Tree Sparrow breed in the far north and migrate to
central North America in the winter, in most cases south of
the border throughout the United States. Therefore, American
Tree Sparrow is a rare visitor to Colony Farm as is
reflected by the capture of only a few individuals in April
and zero capture rate for the remainder of the year. Capture
rates above are standardized as birds captured per 100 net
hours from 2010 - 2012.