Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Cephas/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
Passerculus sandwichensis
Perching Birds | Family: New World Sparrows, Emberizidae

An estimated 30% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

Sixteen subspecies of this most familiar of the grassland sparrows are recognized, each slightly different in coloration and song. The formation of many subspecies usually indicates that the birds are faithful to their native area. One large and pale form that breeds at Sable Island, Nova Scotia, was until recently considered a separate species, the "Ipswich Sparrow." Savannah Sparrows are able runners; once discovered, they drop into the grass and dart away. In the fall they migrate southward in huge numbers and may then be found almost anywhere, even in city parks.

Description

4 1/2-6" (11-15 cm). Pale and streaked, yellowish eyebrow and pinkish legs. Tail notched; other grassland sparrows have shorter, more pointed tails.

Voice

High-pitched, buzzy tsip-tsip-tsip-se-e-e-srr.

Nesting

4-6 pale blue-green eggs, variably spotted and speckled with dark brown, in a cup of grass lined with finer plant material and hair, placed on the ground.

Habitat

Fields, prairies, salt marshes, and grassy dunes.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska east to Labrador and south to New Jersey, Missouri, and northern Mexico. Winters regularly north to southeastern Alaska and Massachusetts.