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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

Song Sparrow -- Melospiza melodia

RANGE: Breeds from Alaska across Canada, south of Hudson Bay, to Newfoundland and south across the northern part of the United States, along the Pacific Coast, and into Mexico. Resident throughout the northern part of the United States and Pacific Coast. Winters coastally from Alaska and Newfoundland south throughout the southern half of the breeding range.

STATUS: Common throughout the eastern United States and northern parts of its range. Locally common in the West.

HABITAT: Inhabits moist areas with low irregular plants, or deep grassy and brushy vegetation. Particularly common along waterways, seacoasts with marshes of cattails or bulrushes, and along forest edges adjacent to bogs and openings. Also inhabits fencerows, thickets, hedgerows, and gardens.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Moist areas with brushy vegetation.

NEST: Usually builds nest on the ground, concealed under a tuft of grass or bush, or even a brushpile, but sometimes in shrubs and small trees up to 12 feet above ground, and in tree cavities.

FOOD: Eats a wide variety of both vegetable and animal materials. Gleans insects from the ground, leaves, and branches, mostly during the breeding season.

REFERENCES: Nice 1937,1943, Forbush and May 1955.

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