American Tree Sparrow

Spizella arborea

Of the order and family Passeriformes Emberizidae. One of the seven species of sparrows of the Spizella genus.

Appearance: Adults of the species are about 15-16.5 cm long, weigh 18-26 grams, and have a wingspan of 21-25cm. Its beak is conical and dark on the top and yellow-orange on the lower mandible. It has a rufous crown and eyeline, gray supercilium and face, and a gray breast with a dark spot in the centre and rusty coloured patches at the side. The edges of its wings and tail are frosty coloured, and it has buff coloured flanks, a tan back with dark streaks, brown wings with white wing bars, and a slim, forked tail. It's adult flight and tail feathers are rounded at the tips, though the tail feathers of the juveniles are more pointed. It's juvenile plumage is similar to mature plumage, but duller with a streaked breast. Both sexes look similar to each other. The American Tree Sparrow closely resembles the Chipping Sparrow.

Diet: Eats the seeds of weeds and also small bugs.

Habitat: Lives in weeded and shrubby fields, roadside thickets, and wasteland. In winter it lives in the United States, but in March and April it migrates north to Northern Canada for the summer to breed.

Breeding: It's nest is built of grass, feathers, and weeds in small depressions in the ground near the base of a tree, shrub, or clump of grass (makes me wonder why this bird is called a tree sparrow?). Clutches of 3-5 beautiful pale blue-green and brown speckled eggs are laid at a time, and will hatch after being incubated for two weeks. The young are cared for by both parents, and are ready to leave the nest in 9 or 10 days. This sparrow breeds in Northern Canada, but spends winters south in the warmer United States.

Location: Found most commonly in AK, IA, IL, KS, MN, ND, NJ, OK, PA, SD, WI, WY. Also seen occasionally in CA, DE, ID, KY, OR, TN, UT, VA.

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