January 2, 2018 – Plain-backed Sparrow or Pegu Sparrow (Passer flaveolus)
These sparrows are found in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. They eat mostly plant foods, including grass seeds and berries, but feed aphids and other insects to their chicks. Pairs nest in loose colonies throughout the year, especially from January to July, likely raising two broods. Their nests are built from dry vegetation, lined with feathers. Both parents care for the chicks.
December 13, 2017 – Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)
Found in a spotty range across the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico, these sparrows spend most of their time on or near the ground. During the summer they mostly eat insects, switching mainly to stems, shoots, and seeds during the winter. Females build nests on the ground from dried grasses, rootlets, twigs, bark, and hair. Both parents feed the chicks. They may perform broken wing displays to draw predators away from the nest.
July 26, 2017 – Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata)
These sparrows are found only in three separate ranges in western, north central, and southeastern Cuba. They eat insects, seeds, small fruits, small lizards, and in one part of their range, the eggs of apple snails. Pairs build cup-shaped nests from grass and other vegetation near the ground. They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN due to their small isolated populations and habitat loss.
May 15, 2017 – Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)
These sparrows are found in southern Canada, Mexico, and much of the United States, excluding the east. They feed primarily on seeds and insects, spending much of their time foraging on the ground. Unlike many other sparrows they walk while on the ground, rather than hopping. During the breeding season, pairs select their nesting sites together, with males placing small sticks at potential sites and females building the nests. They build the cup-shaped nests on the ground, in shrubs, or in small trees, from grass, twigs, or stems, and line them with fine grasses or horse hair. Pairs may also take over old mockingbird or thrasher nests, sometimes sharing these, as eggs and chicks of both species have been observed in the same nest. Females incubate the eggs alone, but both parents care for the chicks.
December 2, 2016 – Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
Requested by: rainhawk
These sparrows are found across North America, wintering in Mexico and the southern United States and breeding in Canada and the northern United States. They feed primarily on grains and the seeds of grasses and weeds, along with insects during the breeding season. Their large range is due to their adaptability and they are often among the first birds to return to abandoned mining areas and farms. Analyses of their songs suggest that young sparrows learn to sing from older birds, as the songs of neighboring sparrows are more similar than those living far away. Their nests are shallow cups built from woven grasses on the ground. Females incubate the eggs and both parents care for the chicks.
September 29, 2016 – Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)
Requested by: @gepwin
These sparrows are abundant throughout the eastern half of the United States. Their diet is mostly made up of small seeds from various grasses, including crabgrass, foxtail, and horseweed. During the summer, about half of their diet becomes insects and other small invertebrates. Males return to the same breeding territory most years, while females and younger birds are less likely to return. When a female arrives in a male’s territory she may be attacked by a unmated male, struck out of the air, and sometimes driven to the ground. This appears to be a mating display, as often the pair will be observed searching for a nesting site the next day. Females choose nest locations, build the nests, and incubate the eggs alone. Males may help provide nest materials and both parents feed the chicks.
June 21, 2016 – Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli)
Found in sagebrush, chaparral, and other scrubby, open habitats of California and western Arizona, these birds and the Sagebrush Sparrow were previously considered the same species. First known as Bell’s Sparrows, then split into two species, they were lumped again as the Sage Sparrow in the 1950s, before being split once again. They eat seeds, insects, spiders, small fruits, and vegetation in the breeding season and mostly grass and other plant seeds in the non-breeding season, foraging mostly on the ground. Females build open cup nests in or under shrubs, from twigs and grasses, lining them with fine grasses, thin bark, feathers, wool, and hair.