Lark Sparrow

ID Info
Silhouette SparrowsSparrows

Lark Sparrow

Chondestes grammacus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Passerellidae
Basic Description

This large sparrow may be brown, but its harlequin facial pattern and white tail spots make it a standout among sparrows. Males sing a melodious jumble of churrs, buzzes, and trills reminiscent of an Old World lark. Their courtship is also unusual, involving a hopping and crouching display unlike other sparrows. Lark Sparrows occur in the West and the Great Plains in prairies, grasslands, and pastures with scattered shrubs. In winter, look for them in small flocks in brushy areas.

More ID Info
image of range map for Lark SparrowRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Grasslands and shrubby borders in open country are great places to start looking for Lark Sparrows. In the spring their jumbly, buzzy song should alert you to their presence as they sing from conspicuous perches like wires and fence posts. In the winter when they are quieter, watch mixed-species flocks of sparrows for this species' telltale white tail flashes. They forage on the ground, but when they are disturbed they fly to bushes, perching on top of them instead of running along the ground like many other sparrows.

Other Names
  • Chingolo Arlequín (Spanish)
  • Bruant à joues marron (French)

Backyard Tips

Within their range, Lark Sparrows sometimes visit backyards to eat seeds. This map shows approximate locations where Project FeederWatch participants have reported Lark Sparrows in their backyard counts over the years.

  • Cool Facts