Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

About the Bird

Seen/Heard at
Decorah

Diet
Song Sparrows are ground foragers, although they will come to bird feeders. When snow and ice cover the ground, they eat seeds, grains (including corn), and dried fruit. During the summer, they add invertebrates and a wide array of fresh plant food to their diets.

Nesting
Song Sparrows breed from early April through late July. Females use grasses, weeds, and bark to build cup-shaped nests, which they line with soft materials, including more grass, rootlets, and hair. They lay one to six brown-spotted pale eggs per clutch and produce up to four broods per year. Females incubate eggs for 12-15 days and young stay in the nest for 9-12 days before fledging. Females often initiate subsequent nest and incubation before young become independent of parental care. Males provide all care for existing broods when females start a new brood.

Although both Song Sparrows and House Sparrows are called ‘sparrows’, Song Sparrows belong to the Emberizidae, or American sparrows. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.

Citations
Bird Range Maps of North America
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003.
Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA. Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy – Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International – CABS, World Wildlife Fund – US, and Environment Canada – WILDSPACE.
Web Link: http://bit.ly/2ynPQ5I
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/sonspa/introduction


General Description
Song Sparrows have streaky brownish overparts and coarsely streaked white breasts that often converge in a dark central spot. Their pale grey heads are striped with russet and they may have a broad malar stripe or mustache.

Migration
Song Sparrows can be found in the Decorah area year-round, although some wintering finches could be migrants from colder northern areas.

Measurements
Length: 4.7-6.7 in/12-17 cm
Wingspan: 7.1-9.4 in/18-24 cm
Weight: 0.4-1.9 oz/12-53 g

Wing Design
Elliptical. Optimized for bursts of fast, tightly controlled flight. Excellent at taking off quickly, maneuvering through branches, and avoiding predators.

Range Map

Range Map