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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

Brewer's Sparrow -- Spizella breweri


RANGE: Breeds from southwestern Yukon and northwestern interior British Columbia to southwestern Saskatchewan south, generally east of the Cascades and coast range, to southern California, central Arizona, central Colorado, and southwestern South Dakota. Winters from southern interior California to central Texas south into Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits open, shrub-dominated habitats; arid sagebrush country in the West and scrub balsam-willow habitats in timberline areas of western Canada, as well as bunchgrass prairie with rabbitbrush, dry, brushy mountain meadows, and pinyon-juniper woodlands.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Exposed scrub vegetation from desert regions in the south to timberline in Canada.

NEST: Builds nest in shrubs, especially sagebrush, almost always located less than 4 feet above the ground. At timberline, locates nest 6 inches above ground in birch trees, well concealed overhead by interlocking branches. Rarely nests on the ground.

FOOD: During winter, primarily eats weed seeds. In spring and summer, also consumes insects and spiders.

REFERENCES: Paine in Bent 1968b, Reynolds 1981.


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