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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

White-crowned Sparrow -- Zonotrichia leucophrys


RANGE: Breeds throughout Alaska, the northern regions of Canada surrounding the Arctic Ocean-Hudson Bay region, east to the Atlantic, south through the Yukon and British Columbia, through the Rocky Mountains, west to the Pacific Coast and the Sierra Nevadas. Winters throughout most of the United States, except Florida and the northern Great Plains, and in Mexico.

STATUS: Abundant.

HABITAT: Frequents valleys, brushy hillsides, roadside vegetation, and cultivated fields. In arctic regions, inhabits open stunted tree growth and brushlands. Uses edge habitats and brush piles during winter.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Thickets, hedgerows, or edge.

NEST: Often builds nest consisting of grassy materials, mosses, and lichens, lined with rootlets or animal hairs, placing it on the ground in a moss or lichen bed, in grassy areas, but sometimes on the lower branches of shrubbery. Most nests are well concealed and difficult to locate.

FOOD: Obtains both plant and animal foods by scratching in the soil. Eats the fruiting bodies of mosses, as well as a variety of seeds, and capitalizes on outbreaks of insects.

REFERENCES: Beal and McAtee 1912, Forbush and May 1955.


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