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Bird Identification

Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia Length: 6.25"

Look For

The chunky, streaky Song Sparrow's best-known field mark is the central breast spot, where the breast streaks come together to form a noticeable splotch. Its heavy streaking overall gives it a dark, dusky look.

Listen for

The highly variable song usually starts out with three clear, slow notes, followed by a trill, some short buzzes, and a few more single notes, speeding up as it goes: sweet, sweet, sweet, brzzt, tititititititi, brrzzt, tee-tee-teer.

play the song/call of the song sparrow


Learn the Song Sparrow's field marks well. Then, when you encounter an unfamiliar sparrow, ask yourself, "What makes this bird different from a Song Sparrow?" The answers will be the new bird's important field marks.

Find it

Our most widespread sparrow in North America, the Song Sparrow prefers dense cover such as brushy field edges, hedgerows, and brambles, but it's also common in backyards, parks, and cemeteries.


Not all Song Sparrows look alike. There may be as many as 30 different forms of this species across the continent. Fortunately, all these Song Sparrows sing the same beautiful song.

Bird song provided by Lang Elliot, NatureSound Studio. This profile is an excerpt from The Young Birder's Guide by Bill Thompson, III. Purchase an autographed copy from our nature store, and check out other BWD titles designed to help you identify backyard birds.

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