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Vesper Sparrow


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A large sparrow, the Vesper Sparrow inhabits grasslands and fields across much of the north-central United States and Canada. As its name suggests, it often sings in the evening twilight, though it sings actively in early morning as well.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.1–6.3 in
13–16 cm
9.4 in
24 cm
0.7–1 oz
20–28 g
Other Names
  • Pinson vespéral; Bruant vespéral (French)
  • Gorrión torito; Gorrión coliblanco; Semillero torito; Gorrión cola blanca (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The songs of neighboring Vesper Sparrows tend to be similar; between regions, songs tend to show consistent differences. These patterns suggest that Vesper Sparrows learn songs from adult Vesper Sparrows. In one documented case, a Vesper Sparrow apparently learned to sing like a Bewick's Wren.
  • The Vesper Sparrow is the only member of its taxonomic genus. Based on analysis of morphology, plumage, and other factors, its closest relative is thought to be the Lark Sparrow.
  • The Vesper Sparrow responds quickly to changes in habitat; it is often the first species to occupy reclaimed mine sites and abandon old farm fields as they return to forest.
  • The oldest recorded Vesper Sparrow was a male, and at least 7 years, 1 month old, when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Colorado.



Found in various open habitats with grass, including prairie, sagebrush steppe, meadows, pastures, and roadsides.



Seeds of grasses, weeds, and grain crops; also insects during the breeding season.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Egg Description
Whitish, with variable brown or purplish spots, streaks, and blotches.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse tufts of down.
Nest Description

A shallow cup of woven grasses, placed on the ground.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Scratches on the ground, sometimes using both feet.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Vesper Sparrow is declining throughout its range. Overall, populations fell by 37% between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 28 million, with 64% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 36% breeding in Canada, and 42% wintering in Mexico. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. The Oregon population of Vesper Sparrow is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. Various farming practices, including use of chemicals, large-scale tillage, and early harvesting of hay, all contribute to declines of this species. Vesper Sparrow is listed as endangered, threatened, or of special conservation concern in several states.


Range Map Help

Vesper Sparrow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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