Chipping Sparrow
Spizella passerina

Photo courtesy Donna Bell, Flomaton, Alabama
Copyright (c) Donna Bell 2007
February 7, 2007

Photo courtesy Pete Williams, Florida
Copyright (c) Pete Williams 2008
March 5, 2008

Chipping Sparrow is generally about 5 inches long with a dark, conical bill. The crown is rusty. The eyeline is black; the face is gray and the underparts are tan with dark streaks on the back. The wings are brown with gray wingbars. The rump is gray and slim, the tail is forked. Both sexes are similar in color and markings.

The fall and winter plumage has different head patterns, with a brown crown and fine dark streaks and pale median crown stripe. The supercilium is buff; the bill is pale with a dark tip and brownish cheeks. Juvenile plumage (summer and fall) is similar to winter plumage but slightly duller with streaked underparts.

Chipping Sparrows are similar to other sparrows with rusty crowns, but have a white breast and black eyeline in spring and summer. The Field Sparrow has a pink bill and white eyering. Swamp Sparrow has rusty wings and a dingy breast. The American Tree Sparrow has a dark breast spot. In fall and winter, Chipping Sparrows are quite similar to Clay-colored and Brewer's Sparrows. Often they retain some rust in the crown and can be identified by that field mark.

Photo courtesy Mike Carter, Pensacola, Fl.
March 2010

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