Song Sparrow

photo by Phil Swanson

Melospiza melodia
L 6 1/4″ (16 cm).

Song or calls:

Listen (NGPC audio)

Song is 3 or 4 short clear notes followed by buzzy “tow-wee,” and ending with a trill. 

Description: Sexes similar. Plumage is highly variable. All have long, rounded tail that is pumped in flight; broad grayish eyebrow; and broad dark stripe bordering whitish throat. Reddish-brown upperparts are usually streaked; underparts are whitish with dark streaking on sides and breast that often converges into central breast spot. Pinkish legs and feet. Juvenile is buffier overall, with finer streaking below.

song sparrow
Habitat: Weedy areas, streamside woodland edges, forest margins, brushy edges of ponds, and shelterbelts.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and uncommon winter visitor across the state. Local summer resident. Breeding probably limited to northern and eastern parts of state.

Field Notes: 34 recognized subspecies ranging from large, dark-colored, large-billed birds to small, sandy-colored, small-billed birds.

Fun Facts: Mockingbirds are not able to effectively imitate the song of a Song Sparrow.

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