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Savannah Sparrow

Passerculus sandwichensis ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Not all streaky brown birds are impossible to identify: Take a closer look at this one and you’ll see an understated but distinctive sparrow with a short tail, small head, and telltale yellow spot before the eye. Savannah Sparrows are one of the most numerous songbirds in North America, and while sometimes overlooked, are likely visitors across the continent. In summer, they don’t hesitate to advertise their location, belting out a loud, insect-like song from farm fields and grasslands.

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Songs

During breeding season, the male sings a three-part song that lasts 2 to 3 seconds: opening with a few quick notes; then a high, thin, insect-like buzzy middle; and, ending with a quick lower trill.

Calls

Like many grassland sparrows, this species uses short chip notes when alarmed, warding off intruders, or approaching its nest. A typical chip note is a soft, hissing tss.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Savannah Sparrows are not feeder birds, though they may come to backyards that adjoin fields. But if you keep a brush pile on your property, you might see them swoop in and take cover during migration or over the winter.

Find This Bird

Savannah Sparrows are inconspicuous birds with high, thin voices—but they’re common and widespread. Look for them in grassy areas within their range, the thicker the better. Males are conspicuous during breeding season, singing from perches like a fencepost or a lone shrub or tree on a grassland.

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