Savannah Sparrow Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Savannah Sparrows are medium-sized sparrows with short, notched tails. The head appears small for the plump body, and the crown feathers often flare up to give the bird’s head a small peak. The thick-based, seed-eating bill is small for a sparrow.

    Relative Size

    About the size of a Song Sparrow.

    Relative Sizesparrow or smallersparrow-sized or smaller
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 4.3-5.9 in (11-15 cm)
      • Weight: 0.5-1.0 oz (15-28 g)
      • Wingspan: 7.9-8.7 in (20-22 cm)

Regional Differences

The many subspecies of Savannah Sparrow can range from pale gray-brown to rusty overall. “Ipswich” Savannah Sparrows, which breed on islands in maritime Canada and winter along the East Coast, are large and pale gray-brown overall. “Belding’s” Savannah Sparrows from saltmarshes of Southern California and Mexico are darker with heavier streaking and a thinner crown stripe. The range-restricted “Large-billed” Savannah Sparrow of Mexico barely enters the United States in southern California; it has a much heavier bill than other forms of the species. All subspecies show thin, crisp streaking on the underparts and usually have yellow in front of the eye.