Field Sparrow

Spizella pusilla
Field Sparrow specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A small (5 inches) bunting, the Field Sparrow in summer is most easily identified by its mottled brown back, gray face and neck, rusty red crown, and conspicuous pink bill. This species may be distinguished from the similarly-patterned American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) by that species’ larger size, grayer head, and darker bill. Male and female Field Sparrows are similar to one another in all seasons. The Field Sparrow breeds across the eastern United States and extreme southern Canada west to the Great Plains. In winter, northerly-breeding populations migrate south into the southeastern U.S. and northern Mexico. Populations breeding further south migrate short distances if at all. Field Sparrows breed in a number of semi-open habitats, including forest edges, bushy fields, and thickets near farmland. This species utilizes similar habitats in winter as in summer. Field Sparrows primarily eat seeds, but also eats small insects during the summer months. In appropriate habitat, Field Sparrows may be seen on the ground or in low vegetation while foraging for food. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of whistled notes steadily increasing in pitch and frequency. Field Sparrows are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common year-round resident in all types of fields. Nests from mid-April to early September. Sexes are alike.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC16929 Spizella pusilla (Field Sparrow)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC16986 Spizella pusilla (Field Sparrow)