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Le Conte's Sparrow


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, orange-faced sparrow of wet grasslands and grassy meadows, the Le Conte's Sparrow is difficult to see because of its secretive nature. On the breeding grounds it usually sings from concealed perches and in the winter it rarely remains in the open for more than a second.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
4.7 in
12 cm
7.1 in
18 cm
0.4–0.6 oz
12–16 g
Other Names
  • Bruant de Le Conte (French)
  • Gorrión de Le Conte (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Although the Le Conte's Sparrow was first discovered in 1790, the first nest was not found until nearly 100 years later.
  • The Le Conte's Sparrow is an elusive bird that stays hidden in dense grass, often running along the ground. It is most easily seen and studied when flushed from its hiding spot. Birds on the wintering ground usually flush when the observer is less than 3 meters (10 ft) away, and often when less than 1 meter (3 ft) away. Not infrequently it will fly only after an observer has actually passed it and paused.
  • Few Le Conte's Sparrows have ever been banded. Of the 355 banded between 1967 and 1984, none was ever recovered.
  • The oldest recorded Le Conte's Sparrow was at least 4 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in 2007 in Michigan, the same state where it had been banded in 2003.



Found in open habitat, such as marshy meadows, hayfields, open grassy fields, sedge fields, rice stubble, and prairie. In winter prefers grassy areas with vegetation averaging 0.6 meters (2 ft) high.



Seeds and insects.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Pale greenish covered in fine brown specks
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse brown down.
Nest Description

Open cup of fine grasses, lined with grass and hair. Placed in thick clump of dead grass, on or just above ground.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Usually forages on the ground, often under cover.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Le Conte's Sparrow experienced declines of over 2.5% per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative decline of 73% in that time, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 8 million, with 100% spending some part of the year in the U.S., and 91% breeding in Canada. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List.


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