Clay-colored Sparrow

photo by Phil Swanson

Spizella pallida
L 5 1/2″ (14 cm).

Song or calls:
Thin “seep.” Song is brief series of insect-like buzzes, ending at high intensity.

Description: Sexes similar. Streaked brown above; unstreaked buffy breast; unstreaked whitish belly; white streak down middle of brown-streaked crown; buff-brown ear patch sharply outlined in blackish-brown; whitish eye line and throat; brown mustache stripe; brown rump; two buffy wing bars. Immature has buffy breast band, and more buff on wings and mantle; less distinct mid-crown streak.

clay colored sparrow
Habitat: Brushy fields, thickets,cutover or burned woodlands, and among taller shrubby vegetation and weed patches in prairies.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant across the state. Accidental summer resident, with one breeding record from Hall County in 1973.

Field Notes: Clay-colored Sparrows spend their winters mainly from Mexico south, uncommonly in Texas.

Fun Facts: Unlike many other birds, Clay-colored Sparrows forage outside their nesting area, meaning they have smaller territories to defend.

Clay-colored Sparrow - photo by Phil Swanson Clay-colored Sparrow - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)