Swamp Sparrow

photo by Phil Swanson

Melospiza georgiana
L 5 3/4″ (15 cm).

Song or calls:
Prolonged “zeee” and metallic “chip.” Song is slow musical trill, all on one pitch.

Description: Sexes similar. Breeding adult has rich rufous upperparts and wings, with variable black streaking on back; grayish breast with faint streaking; whitish belly. Gray face with thin black mustache and crown stripes; white throat; and reddish crown. Winter adult is buffier overall; crown is streaked with gray central crown stripe; and rich buffy sides. Juvenile is even buffier, with heavy streaking on breast and sides.

Behavior: Pumps tail while in flight, similar to other Melospiza sparrows.

swamp sparrow
Habitat: Fresh and brackish marshes, swamps, and streams. Nesting occurs in marshes or wetlands with dense, tall vegetation such as cattails, phragmites, and shrubs or small trees.

Where in Nebraska: Uncommon spring and fall migrant in eastern Nebraska, becoming very rare in the west. Rare and local summer resident in appropriate habitats.

Fun Facts: They begin singing in the morning and will sometimes sing throughout the night if there is moonlight.

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