November 5, 2012

Fear Not the Sparrow – a guide to New England Sparrow Identification


For the beginner bird watcher sparrows pose an intimidating identification challenge and the idea of actively seeking them out may seem like an act of self punishment. However, sparrows are a wonderful and lively addition to the New England landscape during the early winter and learning to identify the more abundant species is not as hard as it may seem. Sparrows, like the  warblers, split their time between north and south. However, unlike the colorful "neo-topical" migrants that winter in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America sparrows are boreal nesters that come down to our southern climes for the winter. Over the next few weeks the Daily Bird New England will be profiling several species of sparrows that the beginner bird watcher can find (and identify!) throughout the region.

Species will include:

  • Song sparrow - the base line little brown bird
  • Chipping sparrow - why not to look for them right now
  • Tree sparrow - the winter chipper
  • White-throated sparrow - boreal ambassador
  • White-crowned sparrow - secretive but there
  • Savannah sparrow - like Africa in winter
  • Swamp sparrow - the aptly named sparrow
  • Fox sparrow - fat and red
  • Other confusing species – female finches, siskins, and English house sparrows


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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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