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Vesper Sparrow

Pooecetes gramineus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A large sparrow, the Vesper Sparrow inhabits grasslands and fields across much of the north-central United States and Canada. As its name suggests, it often sings in the evening twilight, though it sings actively in early morning as well.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
5.1–6.3 in
13–16 cm
Wingspan
9.4 in
24 cm
Weight
0.7–1 oz
20–28 g
Other Names
  • Pinson vespéral; Bruant vespéral (French)
  • Gorrión torito; Gorrión coliblanco; Semillero torito; Gorrión cola blanca (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The songs of neighboring Vesper Sparrows tend to be similar; between regions, songs tend to show consistent differences. These patterns suggest that Vesper Sparrows learn songs from adult Vesper Sparrows. In one documented case, a Vesper Sparrow apparently learned to sing like a Bewick's Wren.
  • The Vesper Sparrow is the only member of its taxonomic genus. Based on analysis of morphology, plumage, and other factors, its closest relative is thought to be the Lark Sparrow.
  • The Vesper Sparrow responds quickly to changes in habitat; it is often the first species to occupy reclaimed mine sites and abandon old farm fields as they return to forest.

Habitat


Grassland

Found in various open habitats with grass, including prairie, sagebrush steppe, meadows, pastures, and roadsides.

Food


Insects

Seeds of grasses, weeds, and grain crops; also insects during the breeding season.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Whitish, with variable brown or purplish spots, streaks, and blotches.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse tufts of down.
Nest Description

A shallow cup of woven grasses, placed on the ground.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Scratches on the ground, sometimes using both feet.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Declining throughout range. Various farming practices, including use of chemicals, large-scale tillage, and early harvesting of hay, all contribute to these declines. Vesper Sparrow is listed as endangered, threatened, or of special conservation concern in several states.

Credits

  • Jones, S. L., and J. E. Cornely. 2002. Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus). In The Birds of North America, No. 624 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Vesper Sparrow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings