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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Lincoln's Sparrow -- Melospiza lincolnii

RANGE: Breeds from western central Alaska across most of Canada, south along the Pacific Coast and the Rocky Mountains in southern California and northern New Mexico, and into the northern Lake States and northern New England. Winters from southern California, southern Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico south throughout Mexico to Costa Rica. Migrates throughout continental North America between its breeding and wintering ranges.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Prefers bogs, wet meadows, and riparian thickets. Also inhabits hedgerows, fencerows, and the understory of open woodlands, as well as forest edges, clearings, and shrubby areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Thickets along the edge of fields, waterways, or in wet meadows.

NEST: Usually places nest on the ground in a shallow depression. Builds a rather frail structure of leaves, moss, and some grasses.

FOOD: Eats both animal and vegetable materials. During breeding season, mostly eats animal material, including a variety of insects, spiders, and millipedes. During winter, mostly eats grain and grass seed.

REFERENCES: Forbush and May 1955.

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