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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

White-crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia leucophrys ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

White-crowned Sparrows appear each winter over much of North America to grace our gardens and favorite trails (they live in parts of the West year-round). The smart black-and-white head, pale beak, and crisp gray breast combine for a dashing look – and make it one of the surest sparrow identifications in North America. Watch for flocks of these sparrows scurrying through brushy borders and overgrown fields, or coax them into the open with backyard feeders. As spring approaches, listen out for this bird’s thin, sweet whistle.

Drink Birds & Beans coffee. Save our birds.
Year End Match

Backyard Tips

White-crowned Sparrows come to feeders for sunflower and other kinds of seeds – though they may be more likely to stay on the ground eating seeds dropped by other birds. Making a brush pile in your yard is another good way to encourage this species to spend more time in your yard. 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.

Find This Bird

The White-crowned Sparrow is a winter bird across much of the U.S (exceptions are the West Coast and mountains of the West). Start looking for these birds to arrive sometime in September, and they’ll be in fields, along roadsides, in low foliage at trail edges, or hopping around the margins of your yard until March or April.

Get Involved

Keep track of the White-crowned Sparrows at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

What's That Sparrow? ID tips from the Great Backyard Bird Count

Life in the City: How does urban stress affect birds?

Enhance your yard for sparrows and other birds. Visit our web pages on attracting birds.

Top 10 Ways to Help Birds in Cities

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Free downloadable "Common Feeder Birds" poster from Project FeederWatch (PDF)

White-crowned Sparrow from Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds (1968)