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Lincoln's Sparrow

ID Info
Silhouette SparrowsSparrows
Lincoln's SparrowMelospiza lincolnii
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Passerellidae

Basic Description

The dainty Lincoln's Sparrow has a talent for concealing itself. It sneaks around the ground amid willow thickets in wet meadows, rarely straying from cover. When it decides to pop up and sing from a willow twig, its sweet, jumbling song is more fitting of a House Wren than a sparrow. Though its song might conceal its sparrowness, its plumage says otherwise. This sparrow looks as if it is wearing a finely tailored suit with a buffy mustachial stripe and delicate streaking down its buffy chest and sides.

More ID Info
image of range map for Lincoln's Sparrow
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Lincoln's Sparrows are secretive little sparrows, but they are not impossible to see. Listen for their wrenlike song in wet montane meadows from mid-May through mid-July in the mountainous regions of the West or in Alaska or Canada. They tend to sing in pines along the edges of meadows or in low willow thickets, so walk along edges listening for their bubbly song. They don't tend to move much while they are singing, so you'll have time to search for any that you hear. During migration and winter they are not as obvious, but a little bit of gentle pishing in sparrow-laden fields and shrubby areas might encourage one to peek out of a shrub, giving you just enough time to grab your binoculars for a look. Sparrows tend to pass through in mixed flocks, during migration, so those first few weeks are a great time to check brushy fields for Lincoln's Sparrows.

Other Names

  • Chingolo de Lincoln (Spanish)
  • Bruant de Lincoln (French)

Backyard Tips

Birdscaping your yard to include brush piles and other bird friendly features can provide spots for them to forage and take refuge during migration and the winter.

  • Cool Facts