Golden-crowned Sparrow

photo by Phil Swanson

Zonotrichia atricapilla
L 7″ (18 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Song is series of 3 descending, plaintive notes sounding like “oh, dear me.”

Description: Sexes similar. Black crown with bright yellow central crown stripe; grayish cheeks and throat; bill is dark above and pale below. Brownish back is streaked with dark brown; grayish-brown unstreaked breast, sides, and flanks; whitish belly. Winter adults are duller overall. Juvenile has indistinct yellow crown patch, and dark streaking on breast and sides.

Habitat: Usually found in alpine meadows, coniferous forest clearings, and in open areas near the tree line.

Where in Nebraska: Accidental. Records for Thomas County in 1950, Cherry County in 1962, and Scotts Bluff and McPherson Counties in 1966

Field Notes: Often joins flocks of White-crowned Sparrows during the winter. Seen less often in urban and suburban areas.

Fun Facts: Golden-crowned Sparrows will scratch out depressions in the ground for their nests so the rim is even with the ground.