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Chook Profile: American Tree Sparrow


    Illustration of an American Tree Sparrow, a gray streaky bird with russet markings on its face, spot on its chest and a bicolored bill (grey on top, yellow on bottom)
    American Tree Sparrow. Illustration by Bartels Science Illustrator Charlotte Holden.

    From the Winter 2023 subject of Residing Chook journal. Subscribe now.

    Although they breed the place the treeline provides approach to tundra in northern Canada and Alaska, American Tree Sparrows go to backyards, farmlands, and open woodlands throughout southern Canada and the north-central United States in winter. Small flocks converge on snow-swept fields and beneath hen feeders, buying and selling smooth, musical twitters as they feast on seeds on the bottom. Generally they’ll perch on the tops of bent grasses that poke by way of the snow and beat their wings to dislodge seeds from the grass head.

    • Opposite to their identify, American Tree Sparrows normally forage and nest on the bottom. European settlers gave this species a mislead­ing identify as a result of it reminded them of Eurasian Tree Sparrows again dwelling.  
    • A day of fasting is normally a loss of life sentence for the American Tree Sparrow, which wants to soak up about 30% of its physique weight in meals and an analogous proportion in water every day to keep up physique tempera­ture and weight at wholesome ranges.
    • In line with eBird Standing and Tendencies knowledge, Kansas and Nebraska host essentially the most American Tree Spar­rows from December to February, with 18% and 15%, respectively, of the worldwide inhabitants overwintering in these two states.   
    • American Tree Sparrows look much like Chipping Sparrows, however in lots of areas they arrive on their wintering grounds simply as Chipping Sparrows are heading farther south. Thus the 2 species hardly ever happen on the identical place and time.   

    Discover This Chook: In winter, watch beneath hen feeders for plump and long-tailed sparrows scratching and pecking for seeds on the bottom. American Tree Sparrows have a bicolored invoice and central breast spot, which helps them stand out from different sparrows. 

    A grap map with red dots showing where the bird is located in the nonbreeding season, also an illustration of an American Tree Sparrow.
    eBird Tendencies map for the American Tree Sparrow within the nonbreeding season. Sparrow illustration by David Quinn/Birds of the World. View bigger map.

    Insights from eBird Tendencies

    eBird Tendencies exhibits that American Tree Sparrow populations are declining throughout a lot of their wintering vary, with some areas of enhance in Montana. “The maps don’t inform us why,” says eBird knowledge scientist Tom Auer, “however agricultural intensification and pesticide use within the core of their vary might be components within the declines. On the identical time, local weather change would possibly enable the species to winter farther north.”   

    Study extra about eBird Standing and Tendencies maps.