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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Chipping Sparrow -- Spizella passerina


RANGE: Breeds from east-central and southeastern Alaska and central Yukon to northern Manitoba, southern Quebec, and southwestern Newfoundland south to southwestern and east-central California, central and eastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and northwestern Florida through the highlands of Mexico to Nicaragua. Winters from central California, northern Texas, Tennessee, and Maryland south in Mexico throughout the breeding range.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits gardens, residential areas, farms, orchards, open coniferous and deciduous woodlands, forest edges and clearings, wooded borders of lakes and rivers, mountain meadows, and grassland habitats with scattered trees. Prefers habitats with trees surrounded by an open area with only herbaceous vegetation and some open ground for foraging. In winter, favors weedy fields and dry scrubland.

NEST: Builds nest 1 to 25 feet, but usually 3 to 10 feet, above ground in trees, especially conifers, shrubs, or vines. Generally locates nest near the trunk and top of smaller trees, or lower in the branches and farther from the trunk in larger open-grown trees, usually well concealed.

FOOD: Generally forages on the ground in open meadows or lawn-like areas gleaning insects and seeds.

REFERENCES: Beal and McAtee 1912, DeGraff et al. 1980, DeSante in Farrand 1983c, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Johnson in Bent 1968b, Stull in Bent 1968b, Walkinshaw 1944.


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