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White-crowned Sparrows Migrating

White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) breed north of New England and overwinter south of New England.  The only time we get to admire their elegant plumage is during migration, primarily in May and October. 

White-crowned Sparrows are strong migrators (A migrating White-crowned Sparrow was once tracked moving 300 miles in a single night.) but they do have to stop and refuel along the way.  Because they are now passing through New England, you may see what at first might appear to be a White-throated Sparrow, but is a White-crowned Sparrow.  Their bold black-and-white striped crowns are one quick way to tell one species from another. (Immature birds have brown and gray stripes.)  Look for them foraging in weeds along the roadside or in overgrown fields.  About 93% of their diet is plant material, 74% of which is weed seeds.

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5 responses

  1. Always a delight to see. Love this photograph too! Thanks, Mary.

    October 21, 2020 at 8:04 am

  2. I had them at the feeders last week! Very excited to see them. (Also had white-throated sparrows.) Thanks, Mary!

    October 21, 2020 at 8:07 am

  3. Alice

    Someone must have been reminded of a skunk, when they gave this bird it’s unusual crown. I hope to see some, here.

    October 21, 2020 at 8:26 am

  4. Gail Platz

    Good Morning, I loved this photo and the writ-up, and I thought you might, too. Hope all is well,Gail

    October 21, 2020 at 9:57 am

  5. This is a fantastic photo!

    Flocks of these sparrows have been showing up in my weedy, seedy garden lately. I may be a lazy gardener, but the birds always benefit!

    October 21, 2020 at 11:55 am

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