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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

Golden-crowned Sparrow -- Zonotrichia atricapilla

RANGE: Breeds from western and north-central Alaska along the coastal region, south-central Yukon, southern British Columbia, and into the extreme northern part of Washington. Winters from southern Alaska and southern British Columbia, mostly west of the Cascades, to northern Baja California. Also occurs in southeastern California and parts of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Generally inhabits high-elevation thickets and shrubs, and often dwarf conifers found in brushy canyons. In winter, found in dense brush thickets and chaparral, and gardens along the West Coast.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Openings in high-elevation coniferous forests, particularly spruce forests.

NEST: Builds a nest of bulky material, such as ferns, leaves, and dry grass, on the ground or above ground on horizontal branches of small trees, usually well concealed.

FOOD: Eats mainly seeds, shoots from plants, buds, and flowers of grasses and forbs. Also gleans small insects from trees, branches, shrubs, and grass.

REFERENCES: Verner and Boss 1980.

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