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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Lincoln's Sparrow

Melospiza lincolnii ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A drab, but handsome bird of boggy areas, the Lincoln's Sparrow is best identified by the fine streaks on its buffy chest.

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Appearance

Sparrows
Sparrows
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small songbird.
  • Brown or grayish-brown overall.
  • Streaking on back, breast, and flanks.
  • Streaking on chest in band of creamy buff.
  • No spot in center of chest.

Immature Description

Immature similar to adult.

Range Map Help

Lincoln
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Lincoln's Sparrow

    Adult
    • Delicate sparrow with small, pointed bill
    • Crisp black streaks on buffy flanks
    • Broad gray supercilium
    • Crown often "peaked"
    • © Carlos Escamilla, Laredo, Texas, November 2012
  • Adult

    Lincoln's Sparrow

    Adult
    • Small, dainty sparrow
    • Crisp black streaks contrast with buffy breast and flanks
    • Broad gray supercilium and buffy eye-ring
    • © Kelly Azar, Chester County, Pennsylvania, September 2010
  • Adult

    Lincoln's Sparrow

    Adult
    • Short-tailed sparrow with small bill
    • Peaked crown
    • Crisp, dark streaking on buffy chest and flanks
    • White belly
    • © Bob Gunderson, Cascade Ranch, California, January 2012

Similar Species

  • Song Sparrow has spot in center of breast, lighter gray eyebrows, a white (not buff) upper breast, is more coarsely streaked, and pumps its tail up and down when flying.
  • Swamp Sparrow has blurry streaks on gray chest and reddish in its wings. Juvenile Lincoln's Sparrow closely resembles juvenile Swamp Sparrow, but crown of Lincoln's is usually streaked, while that of Swamp Sparrowis solid brown or black.