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American Tree Sparrow

Spizella arborea ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

American Tree Sparrow Photo

Plump and long-tailed, American Tree Sparrows are busy visitors in winter backyards and weedy, snow-covered fields across southern Canada and the northern United States. Hopping up at bent weeds or even beating their wings to dislodge seeds from grass heads, they scratch and peck the ground in small flocks, trading soft, musical twitters. Come snowmelt, these small rusty-capped and smooth-breasted sparrows begin their long migrations to breeding grounds in the tundra of the far North.

Songs

Males sing a series of high, sweet whistled notes, generally falling slightly in pitch overall, often with clearer notes followed by more complex patterns. A song lasts about 1–2 seconds. There are many song dialects, each shared by many males, but each male sings only one. Singing begins in late winter before the spring migration.

Calls

When feeding or foraging in flocks, American Tree Sparrows toss back and forth a musical twitter, sometimes described as a teel-wit or teedle-eet, which may vary from flock to flock. Alarmed, they give a hard tseet. In flight, they make a softer tsiew. Females solicit copulation with a whey-whey-whey while fluttering their wings and raising their tails.

Other Sounds

None.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

This species often comes to bird feeders. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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