This Zonotrichia leucophrys, commonly known to be the white-crowned sparrow is a North American passerine bird in the family of Passerellidae. This medium-sized New World sparrow has a grey face and a black and white striped upper head. It breeds in brushy areas of northern taiga and tundra, as well as the Rocky Mountains and Pacific coast. The breeding populations of the northern part of its range are migratory and can be found as wintering or passage visitors throughout most of North America south to central Mexico.
Quick Overview: Zonotrichia Leucophrys – White-Crowned Sparrow
Body size: Around 6.5-7.5in (17-19 cm) and a weight of 28 g (1 oz)
Main colors: White, Gray, Brown,
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: January, February, December
Conservation Status: Least Concern
White-crowned sparrow Description
This bird’s plumage is fairly uniform, making it easy to identify. These boldly outline the solid white feathers on their heads. It has a light gray breast and dark brown flight feathers. Each covert has a white band. The head has brown, not black, stripes that surround a slightly darker “white” patch.
These birds have a length of 6.5-7.5in (17-19 cm) and a weight of 28 g (1 oz). Their wings could range from 9.28-10.25 in (23-28 cm).
The white-crowned sparrow eats 92% plant matter. This species’ small tough bill makes seeds, buds, grass, and fruit ideal food sources. In the spring, it changes its diet to include insects and seeds. This ground feeder relies on dense shrubbery to protect it from predators.
The white-crowned sparrow has been shown to be a very adaptable species. From parking lots to Rocky Mountain meadows and boreal forests. Tall coniferous trees along a territory’s edge, grass and bare ground for foraging, and dense cover to conceal a nest or roosting area are all they need.
The white-crowned sparrow is a lonesome bird. Males are fiercely territorial, despite migrating in a small group of eight. Most return year after year to guard non-overlapping established territories. In response to an intruder or predator, the male sings loudly, puffing up his chest. When a male first enters his territory, especially during the breeding season, he will fight often. This behavior, along with the specific territories that a male can guard, establishes a clear hierarchy within the species.
Zonotrichia leucophrys Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Passeriformes
- Family: Passerellidae
- Genus: Zonotrichia
- Species: Zonotrichia leucophrys
Best time of the year to see
The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the winter season (December to February).
Distribution of the White-crowned sparrow in the USA
The species prefers northern Canadian and western United States brushlands for breeding. Nests are hidden in low bushes or on the ground. During the winter, northern United States populations migrate south. They are uncommon in Western Europe. Some subspecies live year-round while others migrate thousands of kilometers south every year.
The white-crowned sparrow can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.