Birds of the Month: Native Sparrows
Though native sparrows seem to look alike, these regular feeder visitors have distinct differences.
- Chipping Sparrows must consume over two pounds of seeds through the course of winter to survive. With an average body weight of only 13 grams, this means that Chipping Sparrows consume over 70 times their own weight in seeds each winter.
- Most birds molt all of their body feathers once or twice a year. Chipping Sparrows follow the same schedule and they may also replace the feathers on its face and throat up to six times a year.
- American Tree Sparrows are known to eat large amounts of common weed seeds. Each year they are estimated to eat 875 tons of the weed seeds in the state Iowa alone.
- When the ground is snow covered, American Tree Sparrows have been observed to fly around a weed plant, using their wings to dislodge its seeds onto the snow below for easy retrieval.
- An American Tree Sparrow eats about 30% of its own body weight in food every day during the summer. They also drink about 30% of their own body weight of water each day.
- Individual White-throated Sparrows have either white stripes on their head or tan stripes. These distinct color forms are genetic in origin. White-striped birds are more aggressive than tan-striped ones, and each bird almost always mates with a bird whose stripe color is opposite from their own.
- White-throated Sparrows and the Dark-eyed Juncos have been known to occasionally mate and produce hybrids.
- White-crowned Sparrows have been known to migrate over 2600 miles from Alaska to California. While migrating north in the spring, their average travel distance is about 70 miles per day.
- Song Sparrows are the most common and widespread sparrow native to North America.
- There are 31 recognized subspecies of the Song Sparrow, more than any other bird species found in North America.
- When migrating, female Song Sparrows travel farther south than do their male counterparts.
- A pair of Song Sparrows will live and nest in 1-1/2 acres or fewer and may raise up to four broods a year.
For more information about native sparrows, visit rightbird.com - our online bird guide.