News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

Ah the common Song Sparrow, (Melospiza melodia) — our winter companion, chirping their way through cold soggy weather.

Unnoticed by many, loved by a few, the Song Sparrow is a bright light if you are enjoying the small things. It sings from a high perch to claim territory and flicks its tail to the sparrow rhythm, as it tells a story of weeds and grasses and seeds. Look closely, they possess ornamental patterns of russet and gray and white stripes.

Songs enable the sparrow to tell a neighbor from a stranger that could pose a threat. Tunes also play an important role in helping females stay near their mates. A female will prefer her mate’s melodious, complex trills to those of all other Song Sparrows, although she repays him with harsh chatter during nest building. Maybe it’s because she builds the nest alone.

Females incubate the blue-green eggs with brown spots for 12 to 14 days and the young are fed by both parents for five to six days. The chicks can fly well in 17 days and are on their own in 20 days. Their diet consists of grains, seeds, berries and grass.

This familiar sparrow is one of the most diverse and widespread songbirds in North America, with 24 diagnosable subspecies. They have been known to produce six broods a year. Even so their population has decreased by 30 percent from 1970 to 2014.

Groups of Song Sparrows are referred to as a “choir,” a “chorus,” or a “flock” of sparrows.

For more Song Sparrow photos visit


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