Swamp Sparrow Life History


Habitat MarshesVarious wetlands, including freshwater and tidal marshes, bogs, meadows, and swamps.Back to top


Food InsectsSeeds, fruits, and aquatic invertebrates.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Shrub

Nest Description

A bulky open cup of dry grasses, sedges, plant stalks, and leaves, lined with fine grass, plant fibers, and occasionally hair. Placed in dense cattails, grass, or shrubs; some on ground.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-6 eggs
Egg Description:Bluish green with spots and blotches.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless with sparse dark brown down.
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Behavior Ground ForagerFeeds at water's edge, picking invertebrates from mud or surface of water.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernSwamp Sparrow populations appear to be stable, with a small increase between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimated a global breeding population of 30 million, with 76% spending part of the year in the U.S., 91% in Canada, and 23% in Mexico. The species rates a 6 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Swamp Sparrow is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. The long-term prospects of this sparrow will depend on wetland conservation. Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

Mowbray, Thomas B. 1997. Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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