American Tree Sparrow

Spizella arborea
American Tree Sparrow specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (6-6 ½ inches) bunting, the American Tree Sparrow is most easily identified by its mottled brown back, gray face and neck, small dark breast spot, and rusty red crown. This species may be distinguished from the similarly-patterned Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by that species’ smaller size and conspicuous white eye-stripes. Male and female American Tree Sparrows are similar to one another in all seasons. The American Tree Sparrow breeds across Alaska and northern Canada. In winter, this species migrates south to southern Canada and the northern half of the United States. This species is absent from much of the southern United States and the U.S. Pacific coast. American Tree Sparrows breed primarily breed on sparsely vegetated tundra near the tree line. In winter, this species is found in a wider variety of habitats, including woodland, meadows, and suburban yards. American Tree Sparrows primarily eat a variety of fruits, berries, seeds, and small invertebrates. In appropriate habitat, American Tree Sparrows may be seen feeding on the ground or in the branches of low trees and shrubs. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ call, a squeaky “tseet” or “teelwit.” American Tree Sparrows are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern