Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow
(Spizella passerina)

Order:  Passeriformes
Family:  Passerellidae

Chipping Sparrow in Breeding Plumage
Photo by Mdf [CC SA 3.0]

Chipping Sparrow Information

Length:  5 - 5.5"

Breeding Habitat:  Open woodlands, forest edges, forest clearings, wooded edges of lakes and rivers, open grassy areas with scattered trees, farmland.

Diet:  Insects, including grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars; grass seeds and weed seeds.

  Songs and calls of Chipping Sparrow

Additional Information

Chipping Sparrow
Habitat, diet, feeding behavior, nesting, migration, and conservation status of this bird. Includes range map, photos, and songs and calls. (From Audubon Field Guide)

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

© Robert Royse

Chipping Sparrow
Identification Tips

  • Dark, conical bill
  • Rusty crown
  • White supercilium and black eyeline
  • Gray face and underparts
  • Tan back with dark streaks
  • Brown wings with wing bars
  • Gray rump
  • Slim, forked tail
  • Sexes similar
  • Fall and Winter plumage has different head pattern: brown crown with fine dark streaks and pale median crown stripe, buff supercilium, pale bill with dark tip and brownish cheeks
  • Juvenile plumage (Summer and Fall) similar to Winter but duller with streaked underparts
Similar species

Chipping Sparrows are similar to other sparrows with rusty crowns but have a white supercilium and black eye line in Spring and Summer.

Field Sparrow has a pink bill and white eye ring. Swamp Sparrow has rusty wings and a dingy breast. American Tree Sparrow has a dark breast spot.

(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)

Breeding Bird Survey Map,

Chipping Sparrow Breeding Map

(Image credit: USGS)

Range in New England

The Chipping Sparrow is found breeding throughout New England.

This sparrow winters in the southern United States and Mexico. Some of these sparrows both breed in Mexico and Central America and are found there in the winter. These birds are considered residents.

Some Chipping Sparrows winter locally in New England, as can be seen on the eBird map below.

Winter Map from eBird

Sightings of the Chipping Sparrow from Dec-Feb over past 10 years (2009-2019)