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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

White-throated Sparrow -- Zonotrichia albicollis

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Yukon and west-central and southern Mackenzie to southern Labrador and Newfoundland south to central interior British Columbia, north-central North Dakota, northern Wisconsin, and northern New Jersey. Winters from southeastern Iowa and southern Wisconsin east to Massachusetts, south to Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and Florida, and west across Texas to California.

STATUS: Abundant.

HABITAT: Inhabits coniferous and northern deciduous forests, favoring semiopen wooded areas with dense undergrowth or brush, including brushy clearings, cutover woodlands, second-growth, forest edges, borders of swamps and bogs, and other shrubby growth. Seldom found far from dense cover.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open woodlands with dense cover in the form of dense woody undergrowth, thickets, or brush.

NEST: Usually builds nest on the ground at the edge of a clearing in areas with small trees, clumps of shrubs, and extensive ground cover of herbs, grasses, and often blueberries. Usually locates nest near a large object such as a tree, stump, or log that possibly serves as a lookout perch; conceals nest by surrounding ground vegetation. Occasionally nests above ground in dense bushes, roots of upturned stumps, or in brush heaps.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on the seeds of grasses and weeds, and on wild fruits, but consumes a considerable quantity of insects when available. Forages largely on the ground, scratching in leaf litter or gleaning weeds and grasses for its food.

REFERENCES: DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Lowther and Falls in Bent 1968c.

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