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Brewer's Sparrow

Spizella breweri

Length: 5.5 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Overall plain without strong distinguishing marks.  Paler than many similar sparrows.

Brewer's Sparrow - Spizella breweriThe Brewer's Sparrow is a rather non-descript resident of sagebrush flats of the western U.S.  Quite common throughout the West, a jumbled chorus of multiple singing males is a common sound near sunrise and sunset.  They usually don't spend a great deal of time on their summer breeding grounds, with some spending more than nine months a year on their wintering grounds.

Habitat: Sagebrush, other brushy grasslands, open woodland, or shrubby forest edges.

Diet: The spring and summer diet is primarily insects, while the fall and winter diet is primarily seeds.  Used to dry habitats, they can survive for long periods without drinking.

Behavior: Primarily forages on the ground or low in brush and shrubbery.  Brewer's Sparrows are sociable in most seasons other than when nesting, foraging in flocks.

Nesting: June and July.  The nest is a small cup built of grasses, weeds, twigs, and other fine vegetative material.  The female usually lays 3 or 4 eggs.  Upon hatching, both parents help to feed the young.  The young leave the nest within 10 days, but are still fed by the parents for a short time after fledging.  In some areas, Brewer's Sparrows may raise more than one brood per breeding season.

Song: A descending series of varied trills and buzzes.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the western U.S. and portions of western Canada.  Winters in the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and southward.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Brewer's Sparrow sightings

Bird Feeders: Will come to feeders for baby chick feed, seeds.

Similar Species: Clay-colored Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow

Conservation Status: Populations are widespread and seem to be more or less stable.  The IUCN lists the Brewer's Sparrow as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Brewer's Sparrow

2) Audubon Guide - Brewer's Sparrow

3) WhatBird - Brewer's Sparrow

Photo Information: May 23rd, 2003 -- Fall River County, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands -- Doug Backlund

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Brewer's Sparrow photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Brewer's Sparrow - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident in the far western part of the state. 

Additional Brewer's Sparrow Photos
 Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Brewer's Sparrow - Spizella breweri