- Common Name:
- Field Sparrow
- Scientific Name:
- Spizella pusilla
- Length: 5.6 inches
- IUCN Red List Status:
- Least concern
- Current Population Trend:
In migration and winter, the field sparrow forms small pure flocks (5–50 birds); it may also mix with other sparrows. It usually gives its flight call when flushed, typically employing a bounding flight to fly up ahead and drop back in the grass or fly into a hedgerow. Flocks will often gather in the same tree or bush to investigate a disturbance. Polytypic. Length 5.6".
Entirely pink bill is distinctive. Gray face with reddish crown, distinct white eye ring, and indistinct reddish eye line. Back is streaked except on gray-brown rump. Rich buffy-orange unstreaked breast and sides; grayish white belly; pink legs. Juvenile: streaked below; buffy wing bars.
Two subspecies show well-marked variation in measurements and overall coloration. The nominate breeds roughly east from the eastern Dakotas and eastern Texas; arenacea breeds to the west. The longer-tailed arenacea is larger, paler, and grayer; pusilla is especially rufous on the auriculars, buffier below, and richer above.
The American tree is most similar but has a 2-toned bill and a black central breast spot. The breeding-plumaged chipping shares the rufous cap but has a dark eye line, is plain gray below without buff on the breast or flanks, has a dark bill, and lacks the bold eye ring. See also the Worthen’s.
Call: a high, sharp chip, similar to the call of the orange-crowned warbler. Flight note: high, loud tseees. Song: a series of clear, plaintive whistles accelerating into a trill.
Status and Distribution
Fairly common. Winters south to extreme northeast Mexico. Migration: spring mid-March–early May, peaking mid-April; fall early September–late October. Rare migrant in east Colorado and Maritimes. Breeding: open, brushy woodlands, power-line cuts, overgrown fields. Winter: prefers open fields with tall grass, often near hedgerows. Vagrant: casual to Newfoundland. Casual to accidental west of mapped range as far as California.
Stable, but shrubby field habitat being developed.