Swamp Sparrow

Silhouette SparrowsSparrows

Swamp Sparrow

Melospiza georgiana
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Passerellidae
Basic Description

Swamp Sparrows provide sweet accompaniment to spring mornings in boreal bogs, sedge swamps, cattail marshes, and wet brushy meadows. Their clear, mellifluous trills resonate through wetlands from central Canada to the eastern United States, where Swamp Sparrows are fairly common but often hidden among aquatic plants. A vivid rusty cap and wings, combined with subtler browns, grays, buff, and black of the body, simultaneously blend with their marshy habitats and make them gloriously attractive in earth tones.

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

Find This Bird

To search for Swamp Sparrows, look for wetlands, even small ones, with tall reeds, sedges, or similar vegetation. In brackish or saltmarsh habitats, stick to the “high” marsh with scattered bushes, rather than the low marsh or water’s edge. Swamp Sparrows are normally hidden in these habitats but are quite approachable and can be coaxed into view with pishing and squeaking, often responding with a chink call note. During the nesting season, listen for the male’s song, a simple, rich, slow trill, delivered from a perch above the marsh grasses.

Other Names
  • Chingolo Pantanero (Spanish)
  • Bruant des marais (French)

Backyard Tips

Even if your backyard doesn’t include a wetland, you might attract Swamp Sparrows during migration to any lush ground cover such as ferns, lilies, blueberries, or many other plants, particularly dense plantings in moist areas. Even brush piles will attract them. If you have room, consider making a small wetland in the backyard. Wetland gardens are becoming popular and can even be used to treat household wastewater safely. Habitat Network has more about creating water features in your yard.

  • Cool Facts