Golden-crowned Sparrow

Silhouette SparrowsSparrows

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Zonotrichia atricapilla
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Passerellidae
Basic Description

The large, handsome Golden-crowned Sparrow is a common bird of weedy or shrubby lowlands and city edges in winter along the Pacific coast. Though it’s familiar to many during winter, Golden-crowned Sparrows vanish for the summer into tundra and shrublands from British Columbia to Alaska, where little is known of its breeding habits. Gold-rush miners took cold comfort from this bird’s melancholy song, which seems to reflect the bleak beauty of its surroundings.

More ID Info
image of range map for Golden-crowned SparrowRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Between fall and spring, look for this large sparrow in shrublands and weedy fields of the West Coast. It might be hopping around on the ground while scratching through leaf litter, perching to eat seeds in weedy vegetation, sometimes singing even in winter. To see this bird during summer, you’ll need to visit the wilds of Alaska and far western Canada.

Other Names
  • Chingolo Coronidorado (Spanish)
  • Bruant à couronne dorée (French)

Backyard Tips

Golden-crowned Sparrows will eat seeds from ground feeders as well as fruits, buds, and flowers from garden plants. Be watchful, though, because they might also nibble on your cabbages, beets, and peas. 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.

  • Cool Facts