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Clay-colored Sparrow

Spizella pallida ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: EMBERIZIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Clay-colored Sparrow’s buzzy song is a signature sound of the vast shrublands of the northern prairie and Great Plains. Though they’re not brightly colored, their pale tones and overall clean, crisp markings help set them apart from other sparrows—especially useful on their wintering grounds, where they often flock with other species. These active birds tend to forage within the branches of shrubs or on the ground beneath cover. Though still very numerous, their numbers have slowly declined over the past 40 years.

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Find This Bird

Within their range, Clay-colored Sparrows are numerous. In summer, visit shrublands or field edges and keep an eye and an ear out for a sparrow buzzing about in a thicket, typically low to the ground. Listen for the male singing a distinctive dry series of short buzzes. On the wintering grounds they’re liable to be mixed in with flocks of other sparrows. You’ll need to look carefully for their combination of overall slim shape, buffy tones, and crisp facial markings.

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All About Birds blog, Flyways for Flyweights: Small Birds Capitalize on Weather Patterns During Epic Migrations, May 15, 2014.

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