Song Sparrow Mating, Nesting, Feeding Habits

Aptly named, the Song Sparrow will sing as many as 20 different melodies with as many as 1,000 improvised variations on his basic theme.

In areas where the birds migrate, the male arrives on the breeding ground ahead of the female.

He starts to define a territory by singing his song from three or four prominent perches.

This practice can begin as early as February.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow


The Song Sparrow is 5 to 6 inches in length, heavily streaked gray-brown upperparts. Dull white underparts have dark central breast spot, thick streaks.

The underparts are a dull white and in the center of the breast is a dark spot. The breast is also streaked.

Head has brown crown, paler median stripe, pale gray eyebrow, white chin, dark brown mustache stripe. Rust-brown wings.

The tail is long, usually tinged rust-brown.

Birds in some areas will vary, with paler subspecies in the Southwest and darker subspecies along the West Coast.

Song Sparrow Call

Mating-Courtship Habits

In early spring, the male sings constantly and defends his territory.

When the female first arrives, the male will dive at her as he does with any other intruder, but the female does not flee.

In time, the male will accept this behavior and the two will begin to move about the territory together.

At this stage, the male will reduce his singing to only about ten Songs per hour.

Nesting Habits

Once the nest building has started, the male will renew his singing.

The nest is cup-shaped and made of grasses and occasionally leaves, placed on the ground early in the year, and up to 30 feet above the ground later in the season.

Although the male may carry nesting materials, it's the female who builds the nest.

The female lays one egg each day until the clutch of 3 to 5 greenish-white with dark marks is complete.

The female does all the incubation of the eggs. Incubation last 12 to 13 days and the young will leave the nest in about 10 - 12 days, barely able to fly.

Song Sparrow Nesting Stats
Song Sparrow Nesting Stats
Eggs 3 - 5
Incubation 12 - 13 days
Nestling Phase 10- 12 days
Broods 1 - 3

The parents will continue feeding the young for another 20 days.

Within a week of this phase, the first egg of the next brood might be laid.

Song Sparrows may raise up to 3 broods a year.

Feeding Habits

Song Sparrows feed on the ground, eating seeds, insects, and some fruit.

You might attract these birds to feeders by scattering seeds on the ground.

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Birds and Blooms Pioneer Woman People Magazine First For Women