This gentle, friendly little bird is most frequently found in close association with humans, and is easy to spot in your backyard of Toronto and its surrounding areas in the summer time. The Chipping Sparrow is a tame bird, and usually builds its nests where it feels safest. The Chipping Sparrow is a pretty bird, and is easily identified by its orange cap on its head. This bird’s original habitat was in fact a coniferous forest, but it has adapted very well to the changes brought by increased human population.
Keys To Identification
5 - 6 inches. (12 - 16 centimeters) in length (fully grown), and weigh from 11 - 16 grams (0.4 - 0.6 ounces). They have a wingspan of about 8 inches (21 Centimeters).
The Chipping Sparrow is a rather small bird with a slightly notched tail. Its orange, brownish cap that you see on their heads are only visible during breeding season. They are Grey on their undersides, and have brownish orange streaks on their wings.
Male and Females are similar in appearance, with a rusty cap, a black line through the eye and gray overall.
Juveniles are smaller in size, still have the stripe across the eye, and are a bit more streaked
Former Name: Hair-bird
The Male Chipping Sparrows sings a long beautiful song that is often heard in open woodlands in the spring. Its sound is often confused with the Dark Eyed Junco!
Chipping Sparrows are cute little birds that can hop and run around your lawn. They seem to be very active during the day, and early mornings. These birds are actually very social and not exactly territorial during the winter season. That doesn’t mean that they won’t have a problem defending their nest and territories from other chipping sparrows (expect their own mates) during breeding season. Females seem to defend the nest, and the males seem to defend their territories. They usually feed on the ground, and take cover in shrubs or nearby bushes.
Chipping Sparrows are found in a wide variety of open woodland habitats in the winter time, and during breeding. They are usually found in open forests and forest edges. They seem to be found mainly in coniferous forests, and prefer forests with shrubby undergrowth. Chipping Sparrows are also common in suburban areas, urban parks, orchards, and any other place where you would also find humans.
Chipping Sparrows enjoy munching away on grass seeds, and fruit seeds. They also supplement their diets with insects during the breeding season. You can find them eating a number of bugs such as: moths, beetles, butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets too.
The American Tree Sparrow is a similar bird, and the only differences seem to be the spot in the middle of its breast, a bi-colored bill, and it doesn’t have a black strike through its eye like the Chipping Sparrow does. You could also look at the Field Sparrow, as they have a bright pink bill, and a distinctive eye ring. Regardless of their slight differences in color, these birds still share a resemblance. Below you can see picture of The American Tree Sparrow on the left, and the Field Sparrow on the Right.
As you can see from the range map, the Chipping Sparrow will spend its summer breeding time throughout Canada, and the United States of America. When it gets colder the Chipping Sparrow will spend its winter in Florida, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean. They are spotted year round in the California range, and migration occurs around the state of Texas.
The reason the Chipping Sparrow was called the hair-bird is because they actually make their nests from hair! Horse Hair, dog hair, even cat hair! Any hair they can pluck away they will use! It is also known that their nests are very flimsy and using hair could be a factor.
Video Courtesy of TStormer, 2009
This is a very cool video that I found where a mother Chipping Sparrow is feeding her young! I love how they all POP up at the same time when they hear their mother coming to feed them!
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